Tag Archives: Brian Baker

BACK-TO-BASICS DEFENSE: Rob Ryan’s lack of organization was his fatal flaw in Dallas

Rob Ryan is out after two seasons with Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

It was first from Jerry Glanville during one of those classic NFL Films moments when he uttered the phase to a referee after a call against his Oilers, “This is the NFL which stands for not for long if you keep making calls like that.” Whether you are a front office member like I was for 13 years or a coach in this league, it really can be for not for long. There are so many highs in this profession but there are also gut wrenching lows and you fully understand when you sign up for this job.

Rob Ryan was removed as defensive coordinator of this team Tuesday night by Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett in a move that was described as going in a different philosophical direction. Ryan is a proud man but this is the situation that coaches live with every day. In the case, the general manager and head coach were not happy and this was the best course of action in their minds. Was it the right move? That is up for debate because you can look at Ryan’s side for the number of starters he had to play without for the majority of the season and appalled how they managed to hold his defense together during a difficult time.

For Jones and Garrett, they can point to games where they did have a full squad of defensive players against Seattle and Chicago but were unable to win those games but I think it’s really much deeper than that. When Ryan was in line to take this job, I reached out to friends that I had with the Browns to ask them about Ryan and what he could bring to this team. The majority of the dialog was extremely positive but to a man the one area they focused on was his lack of organization and maybe this is his fatal flaw. There were reasons that Ryan always spoke how fortunate he was to have Matt Eberflus, Brian Baker and Ben Bloom to help him coach and to his credit, he was absolutely correct. They are outstanding coaches.

There is a side of me that believes that Ryan lost this job in the eyes of the general manager and head coach because there simply were times where he tried to do too much with this defense and the lack of organization got him in trouble. The scheme was more important than just lining up and playing. Every game was a track meet from the sideline to the field with Ryan trying to match personnel and I understand that is part of the game but there were times where you saw either too many men on the field or not enough. My gut tells me that the general manager and head coach want a simpler approach in how this team plays defense. It is more about how you can line up in your base front, get off blocks and tackle. It’s fundamental football and not about having seven linebackers on the field. You look at the Chicago Bears and how simple they play defense but also create turnovers. Again, the injury situation limits what Ryan can do but it’s a cleaner approach.

Looking back I will always be thankful for the opportunity to cover Ryan these last two seasons. He was always very honest to me and had time to answer questions about his dad’s “46” defense but this is a bottom line business and he even understands that. The general manager told you he wasn’t happy and no one took this seriously but I guess we will now. I will be interested to see in what direction he and Garrett go, but that is for another story.   

Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout

SIGNED AND SEALED: Dallas Cowboys DE Sean Lissemore contract extended through 2016

SIGNED AND SEALED - Dallas Cowboys DE Sean Lissemore contract extended through 2016 - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys have reached a three-year extension with defensive end Sean Lissemore.

Lissemore’s deal has $3.1 million guaranteed and includes a $2 million signing bonus.

"The Cowboys like him and Sean likes being there," Lissemore’s agent Wes Bridges said. "Quite frankly, Sean had a decision to make and see if he wanted to wait it out and go to next year, but he didn’t want it to be a distraction and wanted to just play ball. He wanted to get a deal done and get it done this year."

Sean Lissemore has yet to start a game in his NFL career. Obviously, the Cowboys are figuring he will at some point.

Lissemore has become one of their top substitutes and the coaches view him as a future starter. He was credited with two tackles in the season-opening win at the New York Giants, playing end and nose tackle.

He played in every game last year and had 39 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries.

That’s why they are making sure he stays in the fold for a while. Lissemore’s original four-year deal went through the 2013 season, but the Cowboys obviously want him in the mix much longer than that.

Lissemore is currently a backup on the defensive line, but his versatility to play both end and tackle is valuable in the 3-4 scheme.

The Cowboys have some aging veterans on the defensive line in Kenyon Coleman (33), Marcus Spears (29) and Jay Ratliff (31). Lissemore just turned 25 on Tuesday.

Drafted in the seventh round out of William & Mary, Lissemore played in just two games as a rookie before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. But last year, Lissemore played in all 16 games, finishing 12th on the defense with 39 tackles. He had two sacks, equaling Jay Ratliff’s total despite playing about 400 less snaps.

In fact, defensive line coach Brian Baker called Lissemore his most productive player “per snap” in 2011 and said he would get more snaps this season.

And apparently, a few more after this one as well.

DEFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY: Why the Dallas Cowboys won’t move Jay Ratliff to DE

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff - The Boys Are Back blog

One question that has lingered the last few off-seasons with Cowboys’ fans is why the team doesn’t move nose tackle Jay Ratliff to defensive end.

Those in favor of the move argue that Ratliff is undersized for a nose tackle at 6-4, 287 pounds and would be a more effective pass-rusher as a defensive end, where he could utilize his speed and quickness to get off the snap and get to the quarterback.

Ratliff had a career-high 7 sacks in 2008, but his sack total has declined for three consecutive seasons. That doesn’t mean that Ratliff is fading.

In fact, the Cowboys don’t see it that way at all. That’s why they signed Ratliff – who had been a bargain – to a five-year, $40 million contract extension before last season. Ratliff, who often occupied double-teams last season, rewarded the Cowboys with a fourth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance.

The question about moving Ratliff to defensive end popped up yet again last weekend during the Cowboys’ three-day rookie mini-camp at Valley Ranch, and defensive line coach Brian Baker made it crystal clear that the team isn’t considering moving Ratliff anywhere.

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff - The Boys Are Back blog

“I’m still looking to see whose thought that is. I hear that question and it’s always posed exactly like you posed it in that there is a thought,” Baker said. “I’m trying to identify who has that thought because nobody that matters to me does have that thought. OK? The players don’t have that thought, the coaches don’t have that thought, the personnel department that I know of doesn’t have that thought, so I don’t know. Who has that thought? I don’t know who has that thought. I haven’t talked to the guy who has that thought, so there is no thought for me. That’s for sure.”

Baker also said he doesn’t believe Ratliff wore down last season.

“No. Jay got hurt. Jay actually cracked a rib. He was busted up at the end of the year,” Baker said. “That’s why his rush took away and we had to kind of get him through it. He was hurt. As a matter of fact, this is the fewest amount of reps he’s played percentage-wise since he’s been a starter because we’ve got some strong people behind him, Josh Brent, [Sean] Lissemore, that kind of stuff and if we see that it was becoming that kind of game then again because of that third-down issue that I got, you take first and second down off this series and then get back in there on third. OK? So he’s going to take all the third downs unless somebody proves that they’re a better pass-rusher inside. Until that happens, if he’s getting a little worn then we’ll save him for third down.”

The Cowboys just drafted a defensive end in the third round who is almost exactly the same size as Ratliff. Boise State’s Tyrone Crawford recently added 10 pounds to get to 6-4, 285.

Baker and other Cowboys coaches were questioned last weekend whether Crawford needs to add more weight to maximize his potential as a third-down pass-rusher.

Baker then explained his philosophy on defensive linemen, which also could help explain the Cowboys’ thought process on Ratliff.

“I’m not a bigger-is-better guy. I’m a better-is-better guy,” Baker said. “Now if you can be good and big, be that, but again, I want you to be better. My philosophy is [size] doesn’t matter.

“You’re not going to be bigger than those guys. It’s not that. It’s how quickly you can get into the guy, handle your responsibility and get off the guy. That’s it. That’s defensive line play, I don’t care what system you’re in.”

WHAT’S HIS NAME: For awhile, new coaches didn’t know who Dallas Cowboy Sean Lissemore was

Dallas Cowboys DE Sean Lissemore - The Boys Are Back blog

A rib injury kept defensive end Sean Lissemore from getting in all of his work in minicamp and OTAs.

But it doesn’t mean he’ll be behind when training camp starts.

At least right now, he’s got a productive season behind him. And his coaches know his name.

“Shoot, I started training camp last year not even knowing who Sean Lissemore was, other than he was some guy on our team,” defensive line coach Brian Baker said last week after a practice at Valley Ranch. “I didn’t do him in college. I didn’t have a familiarity with him. I saw him so little in the season because he was hurt. And we didn’t have an OTA.

“But it didn’t take long for me to get to know him in training camp.”

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan remembers thinking the same thing.

“When I first got here, I watched the tape, and he wasn’t that impressive the year before,” Ryan said. “Then he clearly, in my opinion, beat out the incumbent, Olshansky, so we went in that direction. Might have turned some heads doing that. He’s improved. Done an excellent job. And he’s a real player.”

Lissemore had 28 tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss last year, playing both nose tackle and defensive end. The former seventh-round pick (2010) out of William & Mary finished last year with tackles in 11 consecutive games, including sacks at Arizona and Tampa Bay.

Last year, Dallas Cowboys DE Sean Lissemore,  had tackles in 11 consecutive games, including sacks at Arizona and Tampa Bay - The Boys Are Back blog

In training camp, Lissemore is expected to play both nose tackle and defensive end, but he’ll get most of his work at defensive end, where he will push Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears.

“Is he going to be behind for where he wanted to be in training camp? Yes,” Baker said. “But is he going to be too far behind to compete to get one of those solid rotation roles, which is what I expect of him? No.”

Ryan doesn’t believe Lissemore will be too far behind, either.

“He’s been through an incredible offseason with Mike Woicik,” Ryan said. “This guy, his body’s changing, everything about him. He’s so fast for the game now. He knows his assignments. He’s doing a great job. The nice thing is, if we ever get in a situation where, God forbid, somebody gets hurt, Sean Lissemore can jump in in any spot and be an effective starter.”

Dallas Cowboy Sean Lissemore - The Boys Are Back blog

COACHES ROSTER: Meet the 2013-14 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

There have been a number of changes in the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff over the past few years. Here’s an updated list of the assistant coaches and links for more detailed information on each of them.


Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett was named the eighth head coach in Dallas Cowboys history on January 5, 2011. Garrett, who played for or worked alongside four of his predecessors, became the first former Dallas Cowboys player to become the team’s head coach.


Offensive Coaches Defensive Coaches Specialty Coaches
Jimmy Robinson
Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers
Monte Kiffin
Defensive Coordinator
Mike Woicik
Strength and Conditioning
To Be Determined
Tight Ends/Passing Game Coord.
Jerome Henderson
Chris Boniol
Assistant Special Teams/ Kickers
Wade Wilson
Matt Eberflus
Brett Bech
Assistant Strength and Conditioning
Bill Callahan
Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
Rod Marinelli
Defensive Line
Wes Phillips
Assistant Offensive Line
Ben Bloom
Quality Control/Linebackers
Keith O’Quinn
Off. Quality Control/Wide Receivers
Joe Baker
Assistant Secondary

This post has been revised. Please click HERE.

%d bloggers like this: