After enjoying a few days out of the SportsCenter limelight, the Cowboys cannonballed back into the limelight with the firing of Mr. limelight himself, Rob Ryan. For most of us, this was a move that came out of left field and caught us by surprise. Sure, Jerry said we'd see change. And yes, the 2012 Dallas Cowboys defense allowed the most yards in team history (let that soak in a bit). Heck, even if we include 2011, the past two season of Dallas defense have recorded two of the worst 5 seasons in team history in terms of overall yardage. But did it ever seem like Big Rob was on the verge of being fired?
Not really. And realistically, Rob might have suffered from a bit of "scapegoat syndrome" after the entire fan base was upset due to the loss against Washington. But is this a good move? Should Jason Garrett be shaking in his boots a little bit at this point?
No. In fact, this seems like the type of move that backs up Jason Garrett as the leader of this franchise even more than he already is. There was a clear division of labor in Dallas with Rob Ryan as Defensive Coordinator. Garrett had the offense and Ryan managed the defense. But now, especially if he's not calling plays, it is right to assume that Garrett will likely have more input on how things go on that side of the ball. It was well publicized back when the team hired Ryan that Jason Garrett actually preferred former teammate and current Arizona D-Coordinator Ray Horton. His will be a name that gets discussed in replacing Ryan, a testament to the ever-growing power of the Garrett regime.
Another point that many have brought up may be a shift back to the 4-3 defense. Rob Ryan is strictly a 3-4 guy and there was little to no flexibility on that front. Many people out there (us included) feel as though the 4-3 would be a better fit for this team. Letting either Ware or Spencer put his hand down (or possibly even both) would allow them to stay at the line of scrimmage. The athleticism shown by Bruce Carter on the inside leads us to believe that he could handle a shift to an outside position, allowing Dallas to continue to keep its best players on the field. It may also, depending on his status with the squad, prolong Jay Ratliff's career, allowing him to face less double teams and more one-on-one blocking.
It's tough to argue that the results under Ryan were all that good. The team is a dreaded 16-16 over the past two seasons, mired in mediocrity to the dismay of many. Yet, it seemed as though the defense was starting to come around this year. It was even ranked #1 overall for a few weeks at the start of the season. Oddly though, this team never produced the amount of game-changing plays we needed to see from them. Ryan suffered from blitz-anoia (being paranoid of blitzing too much…what? you didn't make that connection? Alright, it's a bit of a stretch) this season after getting burned time after time last year. He rarely sent more than 5 pass rushers in 2012, a sharp turn away from the gambling style we're used to seeing from the Ryan's. The team averaged only 1.0 turnover per game, tied for 3rd worst in the league in 2012. That's also down from 1.6 in 2011, even though the team added two CBs known for their abilities to make plays on the ball.
When we look back on Rob Ryan's tenure, it'll be mostly unfilled promises that we remember. There is no doubt that this unit is on the verge of being great, but it'll be up to the next coach to turn them into a feared unit. With Ryan, it was simply too much bravado and not enough bravo. His successor would be smart to learn from that.
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