Speaking to reporters after the first day of Dallas Cowboys training camp, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan talked about the lessons he had learned about the harsh spotlight 'America's Team' plays under as well as his expectations for the 2012 season.
Ryan promised that he would stay under the media limelight this year, which seems awfully hard to believe, but the real take-away from his comments was the open competition for almost every spot on his defense:
"Competition makes everybody better," Ryan said. "Some people don't want it. They don't want that, but this is going to make us all better. We've got great coaches in here to push these guys, and it's going to be great. This isn't a one-man show at all."
Under Ryan and head coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys have been more willing to eat money and bench high-priced disappointments, as they proved when they shipped out most of Dallas' overweight veteran offensive lineman and put in untested young players instead.
On defense, that means that outside of DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Sean Lee and Brandon Carr, the other seven starting spots on the Cowboys defense are up for grabs over the next few weeks.
At the same time, that means if the defense is as underwhelming in 2012 as it was in 2011, blame may end up falling squarely in the camp of the loquacious defensive coordinator this year.