At the end of last season, Jerry Jones pointed out a Week 2 loss at Seattle as the beginning of the end for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
While coach Jason Garrett loved Ryan, Jones didn't, at least his football way of doing things.
There were too many not-enough-men-on-the-field issues and complex schemes where if the offense did this, you did that. Despite many injuries, the Cowboys finished 19th in total defense, 19th against the pass and 22nd against the run.
Jones got rid of Ryan and hired Monte Kiffin, a veteran of more than 20 years, and asked him to convert the defense from a 3-4 scheme to his famed Tampa 2 4-3 alignment.
So ask me where the Cowboys are from a defensive standpoint after nine weeks? No better than they would be with Ryan.
As of today, the Cowboys rank next to last in total defense and against the pass. The rushing defense is 25th overall.
Kiffin has dealt with numerous injuries this season, much like Ryan last season. He's lost defensive end DeMarcus Ware for three games, didn't have projected starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and used end Anthony Spencer for only one game before his knee needed to be surgically repaired.
In the secondary, veteran Will Allen was benched and eventually cut. His replacement, rookie J.J. Wilcox, took over and then hurt his knee in practice. Starting corner Morris Claiborne injured his shoulder and lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick.
Carter is confused about his role, not sure if he's starting or sitting.
Of course, that's how the Cowboys' defense has looked at times in 2013. They've allowed an NFL-record four quarterbacks to throw for at least 400 yards. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught 14 passes for a 329 yards, the second-best day for a player at his position in league history.
Kiffin, in his whisper of a voice, is trying to solve these problems. He's got a wonderful veteran coach in Rod Marinelli, who is doing wonders for the defensive line.
The players like the other coaches on the defense, but when you give up 20 consecutive points to the San Diego Chargers, then 51 to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and follow that up with 24 points allowed in the fourth quarter to Detroit, you begin to wonder about things.
This isn't to say Ryan is the greatest defensive coach in league history, but at some point you're waiting for Kiffin's greatness to show up.