IRVING, Texas – For starters, I don’t think Rob Ryan deserved to lose his job.
Sometimes we don’t always get what we deserve. That’s the harsh reality of life. And that’s the harsh reality of the business they call the NFL.
I’m not sure about the old saying “nice guys finish last” but I’m pretty sure “fall guys” always finish near the bottom. And that’s simply what this was for Rob Ryan. He was the fall guy, or at least one of them, for a Cowboys franchise that hasn’t been able to escape mediocrity here for the last three years.
I don’t have to speculate on this part – judging from emails, Twitter and these fan comments, there are a lot of people out there who think there are bigger changes that should occur rather than axing a defensive coordinator who didn’t even have half of the defensive starters by the end of the season.
But there’s not going to be a new owner or GM. It doesn’t appear like we will see a new head coach and the quarterback isn’t going anywhere either. It’s just not happening.
Jerry Jones isn’t going to make those changes right now. However, like he promised last week, there will be other changes and that’s where Rob Ryan simply got caught up in the crossfire.
Changes had to be made. So Ryan falls on the sword.
Fair? Not really. We all know what chicken salad originates from and that’s basically what Ryan had to work with towards the end of the season.
Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Barry Church, Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent, Orlando Scandrick and Kenyon Coleman out of the mix for the final month of the season and many of them were gone long before that. Throw in DeMarcus Ware playing the last two games with virtually one arm.
Without a doubt, that played a factor towards the end of the season. And it also played a hand in the fact the defense often looked unorganized.
The nickname “Sofa King Defense” started to surface around here for a while, especially after each player kept getting signed straight from his couch. Eric Frampton, Charlie Peprah, Brady Poppinga, Ernie Sims and Brian Schaefering were all out of the game when the Cowboys called. Sterling Moore at least was on the Patriots practice squad.
When Alfred Morris and RG3 simply ran through the Cowboys for 200 yards and that proved to be the final straw.
Ryan was viewed as a “players coach” because of his ability to relate, but also because he wouldn’t point fingers at them. He took the blame at every turn. That’s basically what Wade Phillips did as well.
But the problem with that is that sooner or later, if you keep saying “that’s my fault” or “that was on me” or “I didn’t have them in the right position” … then eventually it will be on you and it’s your job. And that’s basically what happened here.
Now I’m not saying if all of these starters were healthy, this would be the ’85 Bears of the 2000 Ravens. And regardless who was in there, this defense couldn’t generate turnovers.
But to me, inheriting a bad defense in 2011 and not having an offseason to coach them because of the lockout, and then enduring this injury-riddled season in 2012 and nearly making the playoffs, I would’ve given Ryan one more year.
In the end, Rob Ryan’s chicken salad might be tasty for some, but it just didn’t hit the spot for the Cowboys.
Courtesy: Nick Eatman | Dallas Cowboys staff writer
RELATED: Timing Seemed Odd For Ryan’s Departure
IRVING, Texas – Sure, one can look at the finale of the season, the win-or-go-home game – or in Ryan and Skip Peete’s case, the win-or-get-going game – against the Redskins. A clearly unhealthy Robert Griffin III continued to run the zone read to perfection. Nothing could stop that play or running back Alfred Morris from tearing apart the Cowboys’ rushing defense.
At this point, let’s go back to something else Garrett and owner Jerry Jones reiterated: The injuries aren’t an excuse. It makes sense that, yes, injuries happen to all 32 teams across the nation.
Not every team loses its promising young safety in the third game of the season. Not every team loses its leading tackler at inside linebacker after six games. Not every team then loses its other young, up-and-coming inside linebacker, its run-stopping defensive end, its third cornerback and both of its nose tackles before season’s end.
And certainly, not every team loses all of these components and still competes for a division title in Week 17.
But that was the case, and what followed that loss would be uncomfortable, as Jones had promised. The front office wasted no time getting rid of the running backs coach and defensive coordinator, leaving those at Valley Ranch wondering what’s to come next.
After the Ryan firing, it doesn’t appear anyone should feel particularly safe, considering the problems hardly started and ended at defense in another 8-8 finish. OK, so the defense finished 19th in the league in passing defense and 22nd in rushing defense.
But most of the defensive problems existed before all the injuries, right? What happened against Seattle and Chicago that they scored 27 and 34 points, respectively, against the Cowboys?
Against Tampa Bay (week 3), the defense held the Buccaneers to 10 points. After the Tampa Bay game, which ended the season of starting safety Barry Church, the Cowboys still led the league in total defense and ranked second in passing defense.
One week later against the Bears, allowing 20 offensive points to Chicago doesn’t sound too shabby. The Cowboys still ended that game in the top five in the league in total defense and passing defense.
Its struggle to create turnovers has been well-documented, and without a healthy DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer was the only reliable player to rush the passer.
It’s possible Ryan isn’t the long-term solution at the spot. Many times, the defense looked confused and rattled before the snap. Sometimes, the defense didn’t have the correct amount of players or the right personnel on the field.
We may wonder how the defense could have performed a year later with the starting personnel intact and Ryan at the helm.
Courtesy: Rowan Kavner | Dallas Cowboys staff writer