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Rob Ryan Likely to Become Dallas Cowboys’ Defensive Coordinator

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Jonathan Bales

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports is reporting that former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is in contract talks with the Cowboys to become the team’s defensive coordinator in 2011.  Ryan has extensive knowledge of the 3-4 defense and will implement a system not drastically different from the one the team ran this past season.

Cowboys fans should be thrilled with this move.  While Dom Capers was the top choice for a lot of fans (including myself), Ryan’s style should fit well in Dallas.  While head coach Jason Garrett seems to be a capable motivator, he isn’t generally an in-your-face vocal kind of leader.  Ryan is just that.  The decision by Garrett (and Jerry, of course) to hire Ryan signals the recognition by Garrett of his own weaknesses and a willingness to supplement his coaching style with someone radically different.

Most importantly, Ryan will install an aggressive approach that should result in more takeaways and, if nothing else, a more exciting brand of football.  Expect to see blitzes disguised more effectively and more pre-snap confusion (for the offense) in general.

Earlier today, I posted the PPG surrendered by teams for which Ryan has been the defensive coordinator:

Patriots
1997–18.1 (12th)
1998–20.6 (14th)
1999–17.8 (7th)
Raiders
2004–27.6 (31st)
2005–23.9 (25th)
2006–20.8 (18th)
2007–24.9 (26th)
2008–24.2 (24th)
Browns
2009–23.4 (21st)
2010–20.8 (13th)
You can see Ryan’s defenses improved in five of the seven years possible (he was a DC for 10 seasons, but three were the inaugural year for each team).  While the overall marks aren’t tremendous, I think this is more a reflection of the talent with which Ryan has worked than his own shortcomings.  Ryan has taken over fairly inept defenses during all three stints as a coordinator.  The most important thing is that we see improvement.  The Cowboys will undoubtedly be the most talented bunch of players Ryan has inherited, so I’m excited to see what he can concoct as the leader of the defense.
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24 Responses to Rob Ryan Likely to Become Dallas Cowboys’ Defensive Coordinator

  1. JJ says:

    Jonathan,

    I can’t help but get a pleasant laugh about all of this. I was total agreement with you earlier in the year when the question was posed, “what would you want in a head coach?” I’m paraphrasing but I think we both agreed a young, steady, calm focused, disciplined head coach with a fiery, enthusiastic D-Coordinator.

    Looks like your request has been granted.

  2. Vince_Grey says:

    Nice. Best of what was available IMO. A no nonsense HC, and a tough-minded DC.

    I just don’t know if you can take a “soft” D and turn it around to an aggressive, ball-hawking, nasty bunch without significant personnel changes. But, overall, I like the direction we’re headed.

  3. Rick says:

    The Browns are not as talented as the Cowboys are defensively. Who’s their best player? Joe Haden? And yet they finished higher in almost every defensive category. That’s all I need to know.

    I know Ryan is a 3-4 guy, but can we be sure that Dallas’ personnel matches his defense? Ryan, from what I gather, runs a 2-gap 3-4 defense. The D-linemen are supposed to occupy offensive linemen and let the linebackers make plays instead of rushing upfield. Nothing wrong with that defensive mentality, but I don’t think that’s a good fit for Jay Ratliff, Steven Bowen, or Jason Hatcher. Does seem like a good fit for Marcus Spears, so maybe that increases his odds of being back.

  4. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Nice to hear.

  5. david says:

    well if this is true i see good things from the defense this year and better thing in the years to come a firey hard nosed DC like Ryan is just what we needed I salute Jason G for making this Hire if it comes to pass

  6. Mark Watkins says:

    He definitely seems like the best option out of the guys that I’ve heard mentioned (other than Capers or maybe Mangini, who might not be available anyway). I would love to see a more aggressive defense. As long as it’s not too much of a gambling defense that allows more points, of course. But I do think that the better talent (I hope) that the Cowboys have will allow Ryan to show what that he’s a good coach. I don’t think he had the personnel to work with when he coached the Raiders.

  7. Omar says:

    Maybe Asomougha will follow him.

  8. Trent says:

    Omar: I like the way you think.

    I just read a Fox article that was written like Rob Ryan is a done deal. I was waiting for the Packers to lose tonight to see if DC could be our DC, but I would be more than satisfied with Ryan.

  9. Scott says:

    I like it!

  10. willis says:

    This is a great move. I think on defense we need a hard nosed, no nonsense guy to instill some vinegar. I don’t think we will see as many “missed” tackles next season.

  11. JJ–I know! I’m really excited about the hiring. I think Ryan’s strengths are a great compliment to Garrett’s and I’m glad the Cowboys thought “outside of the box” on this one.

    Vince–We’ll see, but I do think there is enough talent on D to have a solid group. No the ’85 Bears, but ENOUGH with what we have on O.

    Rick–That’s an awesome point. Spears is definitely a 2-gap player, but I don’t like the idea of using a 2-gap 3-4 with the current personnel. I don’t think the ILBs are rangy enough for that to work on a consistent basis, and as you mentioned, most of the D-Linemen are suited to freelance and make plays of their own.

  12. john coleman says:

    Maybe his philosophy will change a little based on our personnel.

    I hear Asomagua liked him and if Ryan is the man he might make more sense.

    I will eco that he may be the best option of all who were available. I certainly didn’t want any of the ones interviewed pryor to Ryan.

  13. JJ says:

    The only coaching confirmation that I’ve seen other than not renewing Sherman’s contract was promoting John Garrett to passing game coordinator. I realize that Ryan is probably soon to be official. I submit the following to Jonathan or for anyone who has true insight…

    1. I read that the Cowboys renewed Wade Wilson’s contract. This pains me so. Has anyone else confirmed this? And, I suppose the Paul Chryst rumors are just that, rumors?

    2. I was hoping Garrett would find a new OLine coach and someone innovative to work with him to develop QBs and help with the offense. It appears he’s keeping Houck and Wilson so unless something changes, on the surface, it feels more about “comfort” for Jason than improvement. That’s not to say he is going to be wrong but just like the defense, I really feel the Cowboys need a new voice developing young talent on the OLine and an innovative and polished QB Coach/Offensive mind.

    There is still a running coordinator to be named it appears but I’m crossing my fingers that there are more coaching improvements still in store.

    3. Finally, if you are in Jerry’s shoes and are looking at your last couple of drafts (outside of Dez and, hopefully, Lee) where do you make adjustments to fix the glaring problems of “championship” talent acquisition? Is this a Jerry issue? Is the is a problem with the scouting dept led by Tom C.? I cannot help but to be impressed by teams like the Packers (tons of injuries and winning with backups) and the Patriots (a retooled team that has many youngsters contributing)…seems like good personnel decisions being made where, seemingly, the Cowboys have fallen short.

  14. Trent says:

    ESPN confirms Ryan as DC

  15. willis says:

    jj, good points overall, especially with number 3.

    I know its easy to say, oh I wish we should have drafted this guy, or done this in the fourth round, but in all seriousness the drafting concerns me. I remember when we traded down two years ago, and out of that draft noone has serously contributed to the team, minus Roy. W who we gave up a first and third for. I know every team likes to sell what they have done, but i remember the scouting department saying they were so happy woth all of their picks, and guys like Mike Mickens didn’even make the team. Similarly, last year, Jamar Wall didn’t make the team and most people I heard were wondering why we would take him at all.

    It’s very disconcerting, it seems like in the last few years we can grade talent very well at the bottom (Romo, Austin, Ratliff) are so-so in the first round, (Ware, Spears, Dez, Carpenter, Jenkins, Spencer), and are very hit or miss in the mid to late rounds. I’m not sure about the stat, but I do wonder if there is a team out there with more draftees who did not make the squad over the last three years.

    I am hoping this changes with Garrett.

  16. Vince_Grey says:

    JJ- What’s wrong with Wade Wilson as a QB coach? I think we have a very excellent group from top to bottom, and WW has to get at least some of the credit for that. I have no issues with our QB play for the most part.

    Now Houck, that’s another matter. I think he’s overrated. I think way back when, he inherited a great O-line and didn’t screw it up for awhile, but I don’t see a lot with the current group, except for Free. The rest are ponderously slow, (OK, not really his fault) kind of soft, don’t adjust to blitzes well, and VERY undisciplined.

  17. Mark Watkins says:

    I agree with Willis about the drafting, as I’m sure almost everyone would. I wish that Jerry would at least hire a consultant who is a great talent evaluator, like Jimmy Johnson (although I doubt he would have any interest in putting in the time to study the college game these days). You’re right about the O-line Vince, but the part that really falls at the feet of Houck is the the inability to adjust to blitzes and being undisciplined. But I think that Kosier has never been all that talented, that Gurode and Davis either were injured or uninspired and Colombo is pretty much done. He has really battled through a lot of injuries through the years.

  18. JJ says:

    Vince-

    I’m glad you asked. Let me state this…I think Garrett is smart. I think he knows that he is not a defensive coach and will find a good DC (Ryan). However, on offense, my sense is that he has a stubborn streak and will stick to guys who are loyal to him. Nothing wrong with that. HOWEVER, I’ve watched Wade Wilson as the QB coach in his first stint and now in his second. The development of Romo was courtesy of Parcells, Sean Payton and David Lee in my estimation.

    Can anyone name one other QB developed by the Cowboys within the last several years? If you say “McGee,” he is very raw and whatever growth he has made has proabably come equally from Kitna as Wilson. Further, I still think Romo has room for improvement not just physically but mentally. I feel the same way about Camp and Houck…probably great men and great guys but I saw more improvement from the OLine under Sparano than Houck. And, Campo, God Bless him, is just not the answer.

    Think about it…when Parcells was here, he had Sparano and Peyton on this staff…both head coaches today. Pretty good brain power. Personally, I’d like to see a different voice than that of Wilson and Houck (and maybe someone with ideas and innnovaton to help Garrett).

  19. JJ–Yes, the Cowboys are (unfortunately) keeping Wade Wilson. And I think the primary adjustment Jerry needs to make is to draft players who fit in well with what the Cowboys are trying to do. They have to have a vision and draft players who fit that, as opposed to simply acquiring a bunch of talent.

    Willis–Your point on Wall is exactly what I meant above. When they drafted him, I immediately said there’s no way he can make the final roster. He just didn’t fit in with that the Cowboys do on defense.

  20. Vince_Grey says:

    JB, you too? Man, not a lot of love for Wade Wilson!

    Look, all I know is what I see. Parcells has been gone a long, long, time. Free agent QB Tony Romo is a Pro Bowl QB. Perfect? No, but a top 10 QB in this league and that ain’t bad. Kitna played way beyond my expectations this season, and even McGee played better than I though he would. For all our problems, QB play was not one of them this year. WW has been the QB coach for some time and you just can’t not give the man some credit.

    What I want to know is, what SPECIFICALLY do you not like about the man as a position coach, since all of our QB’s are playing so well? (When healthy)

  21. JJ says:

    Vince-

    It’s really just my bias. I’ve never heard one player reference Wilson as a source of great assistance. I’m sure he is a good man but he made no significant mark in his first go and then flamed out in Chicago and is just “blah” in my opinion. Kitna was a warrior far before he came to Dallas. Romo is/was a Pro Bowl QB and can be so much more but you saw growth from him with Parcells , David Lee, Sean Payton and Garrett.

    I suppose with Garrett taking over all aspects of the team, part of me really wishes the next “young” Norv Turner was on the sideline whispering in Romo’s ear or working to develop the next Aikman for Dallas. I have no such visions that this is Wade Wilson who greatest notoriety was related to viagra.

  22. Vince_Grey says:

    “Blah”?? What, you want a jumping up and down, screaming guy? All I care about is production. QB coaches are basically there to teach/preach fundamentals and act as sounding boards for the QB’s.

    Kitna may have been a “warrior” before, but I never recalled him playing as well for as long as he did last season. Yeah, he had more talent around him, but again, you have to give Wilson at least SOME credit for that.

    Of course you saw more “growth” under those other guys because they were taking a talented, but raw, free agent and making him a starting NFL QB and then a Pro Bowler. They took TR from a “1” to a “7”. There’s not THAT much room left to grow, if any.

    Now, personally, I think Romo comes back and plays his best ball. One, because of the changes in coaching, but two, I think the time on the sidelines will help him in future games as a player.

  23. JJ says:

    Vince-

    Good discourse. I’m not seeking a lunatic ranting and raving on the sideline, rather, an intelligent, innovative and impact-making QB coach. We just disagree.

    It’s just like Wade He’s a good D Coordinator but I’ve never be enamored with his laid back, country style. Just my preference. How many people are knocking on the Cowboys door for Wade Wilson? Zip. His contract is up and no one but the Cowboys are interested. He’s an average coach…thus, “blah.”

  24. Vince_Grey says:

    Well, there’s obviously a difference in personalities between most defensive coaches and most QB coaches. Wade might not be all that as a HC, but it took him like 5 seconds to be snatched up as a DC. That said, I have never liked his type of defense (Even when it seemed to be successful) and never will. Far too passive for my tastes, yet he’s a hot commodity as a DC around the league. Go figure.

    Tell the truth, I never even considered that no one’s “banging down the door” for Wade Wilson as a measure of his success. But then again, I can’t recall ANY QB coach being gone after that way. Not as a QB coach anyway.

    I just want internal fire and max effort from my players. The coaches, I could care less about their personalities as long as the players play hard all the time.

    Maybe it’s just me. I rarely show a lot of emotional outbursts. When I played football, I was never one for all the rah rah hoopla stuff before and during a game. I was focused and concentrating on my assignments. I got excited AFTER the game, when we won, but even then it was more a feeling of satisfied accomplishment than joy. All that Ray Lewis, Drew Brees hooping it up and yelling before a game is totally lost on me. I think it’s silly nonsense. I’m a lot more like Troy Aikman than Michael Irvin in that respect.

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