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Rob Ryan: What Didn't Work In Dallas

The Saints just hired Rob Ryan as their new defensive coordinator after a two-year run in Dallas. Why was he released by the Cowboys with one year left on his contract?

Here's Rob Ryan and some dude in Brown, since we're out of fresh Dallas pics of Ryan. Someone needs to photoshop him into Saints gear.
Here's Rob Ryan and some dude in Brown, since we're out of fresh Dallas pics of Ryan. Someone needs to photoshop him into Saints gear.
Mike Ehrmann

Rob Ryan was available for hire by the New Orleans Saints because he was fired by the Dallas Cowboys on January 8, two years into his three-year contract.

As we sort out whether or not the hiring is a good move by the Saints, I thought it might help us to go beyond just looking at overall defensive rankings and commenting on his personality and style, and take a look at THIS PIECE by rabblerousr of CSC's sister site Blogging The Boys, which tries to explain exactly what things didn't work for Ryan in Dallas. I highly encourage everyone to read the full text of the post.

Soon after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones's post-season promise of changes to be made that would make people uncomfortable, Ryan was let go, along with running backs coach Skip Peete.

Here's head coach Jason Garrett's official statement on the move (source):

"I want to express my appreciation to Rob for all of his efforts and contributions to the Cowboys over the past two years," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said in a statement. "At this time, the decision has been made to move forward in a different direction philosophically on defense. I have an immense amount of respect for Rob as a person and as a football coach and I wish him and his family the very best."

Hmm, that sounds familiar to me. Now, where have I read that before? Check the second paragraph.

The first point of concern rabblerousr made was that Ryan's defense was placing their best pass rushers into pass coverage too often.

In the 3-4 system, as we all know, the primary pass rushers are the two outside linebackers. This is problematic, however, as opposing offensive coordinators can find ways to scheme players like DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer into coverage - usually by placing multiple receiving threats on one side of the formation.

Next, rabblerousr characterized the Ryan defense as unnecessarily complex:

One of 2011's overriding memes was that the defense failed because Rob Ryan taught the players too quickly, with the result that they were too often confused and out of position. But, even with the benefit of a full offseason, a high level of confusion permeated the defense throughout 2012 as well. A lot of different plays might be cool on paper, but is it worth it if the result is a high frequency of 9,10 or 12 players on the field?

He then tossed out the word undisciplined in regard to Ryan and his system...

According sources inside the organization, internal reviews of Ryan weren't good; the Cowboys found that his schemes and philosophy at times were unsound. They also felt he was inconsistent in his attack, sometimes opting to blitz the house (thus giving up big plays) and others opting to rush only three (giving opposing QBs all afternoon to throw).

...and shared this interesting nugget:

On the Mothership's "Talking Cowboys" show the day after Ryan was fired, Bryan Broaddus related that, when Matt Eberfluss joined the coaching staff, he spoke to some of his scouting connections in Cleveland about Dallas' new LB coach. The Browns guys told him Eberfluss was a detail-oriented guy who functioned as "Rob Ryan's brain," suggesting that Ryan's attention to detail waned, and he needed a meticulous guy like Eberfluss to do all the detail work for him.

His final point is one that we understand all too well.

Dallas didn't generate turnovers.

* * *

I'm not sure how much of this matters, but I wanted it to be part of our conversations going forward.

So, vote in the poll, and then let us know what you think about these points. You analytical types can even dig deeper into them and see if they really hold water.