SPOTLIGHT: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan

SPOTLIGHT - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan - The Boys Are Back blog

SPOTLIGHT - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan - The Boys Are Back blog


Rob Ryan (born December 13, 1962 in Ardmore, Oklahoma) is the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. He is the son of former defensive coordinator and head coach Buddy Ryan and the twin brother of current head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan.

Early life

When his parents, Doris and Buddy Ryan, divorced in 1966, Rob and his twin brother Rex, moved with Doris to Toronto. In 1974, they moved back to the United States to live with their father. He attended Stevenson High School in Linconshire, Illinois.

Playing career

Ryan played defensive end opposite his brother Rex at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

Coaching career

Ryan was a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky in 1987 and at Ohio State in 1988. Ryan then spent 5 seasons at Tennessee State, where he coached running backs (1989–91), wide receivers(1992) and the defensive line (1993). He served as defensive coordinator at Hutchinson Community College in 1996, where they led the nation in total defense (228 yards per game) and in sacks (56). His defense also set a national record by forcing 49 turnovers. Ryan originally entered the NFL coaching ranks in 1994 as defensive backs coach on his father’s staff at Arizona Cardinals. He also coached Cardinals cornerbacks and safeties in 1995. With Ryan as his position coach, cornerback Aeneas Williams earned two trips to the Pro Bowl in 1994 and 1995. In 1995, the Cardinals led the NFL with 32 interceptions and 42 total takeaways. The 1994 Cardinals ranked second in the NFL total defense, second in run defense and third in pass defense. From 1997–99, Ryan was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, where the Cowboys defense continually ranked among the best in the nation, also he was named Coordinator of the Year by The Sporting News in 1997.

In 1999, they were ranked 10th in the nation in total defense. In 1998, they were second in the nation with 41 sacks. In his first season at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys defense finished among the nation top-20 in turnover margin, rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense, allowing just 302.7 yards per game. It was an over 100-yard improvement per game from the year before and helped the Cowboys produce an 8–4 mark and capping the 1997 season with a berth in the Alamo Bowl.

In 2003, Ryan was a linebacker coach for the Patriots which ranked first in the NFL in fewest points allowed 238 while ranking seventh overall in the NFL in total defense. Ryan’s unit also contributed to one of the best scoring defenses in franchise history in 2001, as the Patriots allowed just 17 points per game and produced Pro Bowlers Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi.

In 2006, the Oakland Raiders ranked 3rd in yards allowed per game and 18th in pts allowed per game.

Former Cleveland Browns defensive coordiantor Eric Mangini named Ryan as defensive coordinator on January 14, 2009

He was officially named the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator on January 19, 2011.


  1. Merrill, Elizabeth (January 21, 2009). “Rex Ryan’s swagger leads Jets”. January 21, 2009.
Rob Ryan
Date of birth December 13, 1962 (1962-12-13) (age 48)
Place of birth Ardmore, Oklahoma, United States
Position(s) Defensive Coordinator
College Southwestern Oklahoma State
Team(s) as a coach/administrator





Western Kentucky
Ohio State
(Outside Linebackers)
Tennessee State
(RBs, LBs, DL)
Arizona Cardinals
(Defensive Backs)
Hutchinson Community College
(Defensive Coordinator)
Oklahoma State
(Defensive Coordinator)
New England Patriots
Oakland Raiders
(Defensive Coordinator)
Cleveland Browns
(Defensive Coordinator)
Dallas Cowboys
(Defensive Coordinator)

Super Bowl rings:

New England Patriots Super Bowl XXXVI Champions

New England Patriots Super Bowl XXXVIII Champions

Dallas Cowboys

Rob Ryan - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator

Rob Ryan - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator


The Dallas Cowboys named Rob Ryan as the team’s defensive coordinator on Wednesday, January 19, 2011. Rob Ryan replaces Paul Pasqualoni, who became the club’s defensive coordinator midway through the 2010 season. Ryan arrives in Dallas with 24 years of coaching experience and 13 years of NFL experience. He has spent the previous seven years as an NFL defensive coordinator – Oakland Raiders (2004-08) and Cleveland Browns (2009-10) – and has four years of experience heading up defenses at the collegiate level.

In 2010 Ryan’s defense in Cleveland tied for eighth in the NFL with 19 interceptions. Rob Ryan’s work as the head of the Browns defense saw six different players post multiple interceptions on the season to tie for the third-most players with two-or-more interceptions on a team this season. Rookie defensive back Joe Haden led the team, tied for fifth in the NFL and tied for second among rookies with six interceptions. Haden’s six picks were the most by a Brown since Leigh Bodden had six in 2007, and they were the most by a Browns rookie since Anthony Henry had a team-record 10 thefts in 2001. Also among Ryan’s secondary was the club’s leading tackler in T.J. Ward. Ward, also a rookie,  became the first Cleveland rookie to lead the team in tackles since linebacker Wali Rainer in 1999. On the ground, Cleveland allowed just seven rushing touchdowns which tied for the fourth-fewest in the league.

In Rob Ryan’s first season in Cleveland, the club did not allow a touchdown in three games – the most games in which a Browns defense did not yield a touchdown since 2003. Ryan’s defense posted 40.0 sacks to tie for eighth in the league and the most for a Cleveland defense since racking up 43 in 2001. Over the second half of the season, Ryan’s defense saw an improvement as they yielded less points allowed (-5.3 per-game), total yards allowed (-39.9), rushing yards allowed (-52.0), sacks (+1.0) and first downs allowed (-2.7).

Before landing in Cleveland, Ryan spent five seasons as the Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator. In his time guiding the fortunes of the Raiders defense, Ryan tutored a pair of Pro Bowlers in defensive end Derrick Burgess and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. In his four seasons playing for Ryan, Burgess amassed 38.5 sacks, including an NFL-best 16.0 in 2005. Asomugha finished 2006 third in the league with eight interceptions. In that same season, the Raiders defense led the league in pass defense (150.8 yards-per-game) and third in total defense (284.8 yards-per-game). For his work in 2006, Ryan was named the USA Today All-Joe Coordinator of the Year.

Rob Ryan spent four seasons (2000-03) as the linebackers coach for Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. In his time with the Patriots, Ryan was a part of two Super Bowl championship teams – XXXVI and XXXVIII – while working with one of the league’s top linebackers in Teddy Bruschi. He also mentored 2003 Pro Bowl linebacker Willie McGinest.

Rob Ryan began his NFL coaching career in 1994 as the defensive backs coach under his father, Buddy, for the Arizona Cardinals. In his first season in Arizona, the Cardinals boasted the NFL’s third ranked defense. Under Rob, cornerback Aeneas Williams earned two trips to the Pro Bowl (1994 and 1995) and the Cardinals led the league with 42 takeaways in 1995.

Ryan entered the coaching ranks in 1987 as a graduate assistant with Western Kentucky. He assumed similar responsibilities at Ohio State in 1988. He then spent five seasons (1989-93) at Tennessee State where he coached running backs (1989-91), linebackers (1992) and the defensive line (1993).

Rob Ryan spent three years at outside linebacker with Southwestern Oklahoma State. His twin brother, Rex Ryan, is the head coach of the N.Y. Jets.

NFL Press Release

Rob Ryan leaves Browns to take over Cowboys’ defense

Rob Ryan is the Dallas Cowboys' new defensive coordinator.
Rob Ryan is the Dallas Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator. (Mike Groll/Associated Press)


The Dallas Cowboys hired Rob Ryan as their new defensive coordinator, a league source confirmed Sunday.

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora previously reported that Ryan and the Cowboys met Friday, and both sides came away

Ryan has one year remaining on his contract with the Cleveland Browns, but he wasn’t expected to return after the team fired coach Eric Mangini and replaced him with St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Dick Jauron is the front-runner to take over the Browns’ defense, La Canfora reported, although he’s also in the running for the Philadelphia Eagles‘ coordinator job.

The Cowboys had been seeking a full-time defensive coordinator since firing head coach Wade Phillips, who also ran the unit. Paul Pasqualoni served as the interim defensive coordinator under Jason Garrett for the last part of the 2010 season, but he accepted the University of Connecticut’s head-coaching job last week.

Rob Ryan, the 48-year-old son of former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan and twin brother of New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, has been in the NFL for 12 years. He was defensive coordinator in Cleveland the past two seasons and held the same job with the Oakland Raiders for five seasons.

Under Ryan, the Browns’ defense finished 20th in points allowed per game (20.8) and 22nd in yards allowed (350.1). Cleveland went 5-11 for the second consecutive season, leading to Mangini’s dismissal.

Rob Ryan played college football at Southwestern Oklahoma State and landed his first pro job when he joined his father’s Arizona Cardinals staff as defensive backs coach.

With Rob Ryan running the defense, the Browns lost 26-20 on Nov. 14 to his brother’s Jets in overtime. The run-up to the game included amusing jabs between the brothers making fun of each other’s diets and wardrobes.

The Cowboys and Jets are scheduled to play each other next season at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Courtesy: Michael Lombardi | NFL Network

Courtesy: Wikipedia, The National Football League, The Dallas Cowboys, The Boys Are Back blog

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