I know, I know. The headline seems pretty silly when you first read it. I thought the very same thing and I actually created it.
There’s a few reasons that New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan should be the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Follow me here.
It’s already well known that Ryan was last season’s fall-guy after Dallas’ latest “win and you’re in the playoffs” failure on the final weekend of an NFL regular season. I’ll also quickly add that head coach Jason Garrett has either been the author or had a major hand in three such failures over the last six seasons—remember he was a second-year offensive coordinator in 2008 when the Cowboys absolutely bombed in Philadelphia to end that season.
Anyway, Ryan’s list of injured starters was far from unnoticed last season as Dallas was looking on retail shelves trying to find anybody who could play linebacker in the now-scrapped 3-4 scheme. No, injuries are not excuses, but they are absolutely factors in how a team plays. A glaring example is how the 2011 Indianapolis Colts fared without super-human quarterback Peyton Manning following years and years of playoff appearances, which included a couple of trips to the Super Bowl.
Talent is required to win football games in the NFL. When you don’t have that talent, you don’t win, period.
Well, Ryan didn’t have a whole lot to work with last season and he was inappropriately fired for reasons that only owner and general manager Jerry Jones and/or Garrett fully understand.
Another former Dallas coach, a head coach mind you, that was fired after just two seasons was Chan Gailey. Jones has gone on record as clearly stating that he regrets making that decision the way he did—and he should. Let’s remember that Gailey led Dallas to the playoffs during both of his seasons running the ship. Jones was quoted by the Dallas Morning News with the following in January of 2009:
I regret just giving Chan [Gailey] two years.When you really look at what he’s done since he’s left here and look at what he had done here – he took us to the playoffs twice. And I’m not talking about the fairness of it. I’m just talking about how I should have worked hard on some things where we could’ve made adjustments that were meaningful.
Interestingly, Jones already sees that perhaps letting Ryan go last year was a mistake. He once again expressed his emotional stance on the subject following Dallas’ humiliating loss to Ryan and his Saints in New Orleans two weeks ago. Jones offered the following to the Dallas Morning News:
We thought that it was best for us to go in the direction that we are, and that doesn’t look good right now. Hopefully we can make it look good, but I have all the feelings that you have anytime you want to look back at a decision, and I realize when some of them work you have to have a few things go along with it, and candidly we’re having some of the same things that Rob had last year. He had a lot of people, frankly, to be fair to Rob, he lost a lot of guys on defense.
Well, Jones is right about that last statement.
In fact, the same can and should be said for Ryan’s replacement, Monte Kiffin, this season. The only major difference is that Ryan lost all of his linebackers, the keys to his 3-4 scheme, in 2012 while Kiffin has lost all of his defensive linemen, the primary weapons in his 4-3 alignment in 2013.
Again: No talent, no victory.
The Saints are playing pretty good defense for a unit that isn’t exactly loaded with Pro Bowl talent. New Orleans is in it’s first season in the 3-4 and I’ll also point out that it’s a lot easier to have a good defense when your offense is led by quarterback Drew Brees and his supporting cast of weapons that are literally all over the field.
But naming Ryan as head coach would have less to do with his defensive playbook than it would two things: