He's brash, he's outspoken, he thinks PC is a computer and he curses like a man who idolized Richard Pryor as a child. Rob Ryan, like his brother Rex, is definitely Buddy
Now, he can add undeserving scapegoat for the Dallas Cowboys' failure to make the playoffs (again) to his list of attributive identifiers. On Tuesday, Ryan was fired by the
Cowboys after two seasons as defensive coordinator. His defense finished 19th overall this year, but that is something of a misnomer given the circumstances.
Simply put, Ryan's defense may be the one thing the Cowboys did right all season. Sure, the Cowboys' opponents scored 400 points against them (25 ppg), but 35 of those points were the result of direct scores off of turnovers or special teams, points that Ryan's unit was not responsible for. Plus, it does not take into account the poor field positions it was constantly placed in due to turnovers by the offense, such as Tony Romo's interception in the first quarter of the season finale at Washington.
The unit also lost five starters to injury, including two of the best young inside linebackers in the game (Sean Lee and Bruce Carter), as well as their nickel cornerback (the grossly overpaid but otherwise solid Orlando Scandrick). It is actually a minor miracle what Ryan was still able to get out of replacements such as Dan Connor, Ernie Sims and Brady Poppinga (the last two of whom were signed off the street to fill holes).
Much will be made of the emergence of Dez Bryant, and he played exceptionally well down the stretch, but it was the defense that allowed the offense to keep the games close in spite of their own mistakes. All the red zone stands that led to field goals instead of touchdowns made the difference in close games such as Cleveland and
Cincinnati. The defense is why this team finished 8-8 instead of 4-12. Rob Ryan
should be given a new contract, not sent packing ignominiously.
Also, Skip Peete's firing is every bit as peculiar given that he was running backs coach for a team that, for all intents and purposes, had no running backs. Demarco Murray
played well when healthy, which was maybe a third of the year, and Felix Jones was his usual mediocre self, though he did show flashes of the sheer athleticism that made him a first-round pick five years ago. This is a team that should draft a running back in the first three rounds in April. If Eddie Lacy from Alabama is available, jump all over him.
Jerry Jones talked about making people feel "uncomfortable" around Valley Ranch, which led some to believe that real change was coming. Apparently, those people do
not realize that Jerry Jones does not change. Period. If he was really interested in making bold changes, either Jason Garrett or Tony Romo would be
gone right now.
Sure, Romo had a great stretch in November and December, but when the lights shine brightest, he cannot rise to the challenge. He is not, nor likely will ever be, a quarterback who takes his team deep into the playoffs, never mind winning a Super Bowl. He's this generation's Danny White.
Garrett, for all the hoopla that surrounded him when he was first hired as offensive coordinator under Wade Phillips, is way too conservative in his play-calling and seems to want to stink out games through clock management and playing it safe on offense
(this from the guy who went Clint Eastwood gunslinger on the Packers during Thanksgiving 1994), which leads to more close games when they don't have to be.
There is even talk of switching the defense back to a 4-3 from the current 3-4, which would require DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer to line up with their hands on the ground over the tackles. Given that neither has done this while in the NFL, and that
Ware often free roams up on the line, he might have something to say about that. This would be yet another example of Jerry Jones, who was a 4-3 diehard until it took Bill Parcells to convince him to shift, going right back to what he did before.
Maybe the firing had something to do with that. Who knows? What I do know is that I love Ryan's expletive-laced response in an interview with Tim MacMahon on ESPNDallas, especially in pointing out the obvious: that it would take about five minutes for him to find a job with another NFL team.
It makes me want to throw up every time I see people being nice when they get the shaft in coaching or any other job. Just say what's on your mind. We've become a nation of obfuscators and sycophants, and it's refreshing to see someone from time to
time who is not afraid to call BS when he sees it.
He's also right about likely getting another job, by the way. He could easily end up in San Diego, perhaps even as head coach. He could join his brother's staff in New York. He could fill potential vacancies in San Francisco or Seattle if either loses its
defensive coordinator to a head coaching job. Or, if he just wants to thumb his nose at Jerry Jones, he could sit on the couch at home for a year and draw a paycheck. If I wasn't able to get a job I wanted, I'd do just that, but that's me.
Alas, nothing has really changed at Valley Ranch. An 8-8 season with a couple of close losses(never mind that five of those wins were by five points or less) provides cover
for those inside and outside the organization who are deluded into thinking the
Dallas Cowboys are better than they really are.
Heads in the sand never know when reality comes kicking.