The big news around the NFL today is that former Dallas Cowboys’ Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan is not going to be hired by the St. Louis Rams after all. Citing a difference in philosophy, it is my opinion that Head Coach Jeff Fisher didn’t want a sometimes volatile Ryan on the sidelines.
Cowboy fans are still wondering if Ryan should have been fired in the first place, along with many my first thought was “What is Jerry doing?” After seeing the stats, it became pretty clear that Ryan didn’t do his job despite the fact the defense had a rash of injuries in a plug and play kind of defense. One player would fall and another was plugged into action. The curious thing to me, if they fire Rob Ryan for bring the defense from 32nd when he took over to where it stood this season, what are they going to do with the offense?
Ryan’s defense ranked 19th in 2012 with the defense holding the number 1 ranking towards the beginning of the season, giving the hope that our defensive problems were solved. Then the injuries started to mount and as they mounted, the defense started to fall down the ranking’s ladder. The defense held their own when it came to first downs and third down percentages, both ranking in the top ten. A couple of categories that hurt were the points per game, at 23.5 and a ranking of number 15. The other department that hurt us was turnovers. The defense ranked nearly dead last in interceptions and the fumbles’ recovered we ranked right around the middle at 19. Quite simply, we allowed too many points and our turnover ratio was horrible despite the upgrades at cornerback.
In the offseason, the Cowboys signed free agent gem, Brandon Carr and drafting Morris Claiborne. Claiborne’s rookie season wasn’t a stellar season. He had 1 interception and 55 tackles. Carr had 53 tackles and 3 interceptions.
The Cowboys did hire former Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, switching the team from a 3-4 defensive scheme to a 4-3. Initial reactions were that of a head scratching, “Huh?” The current scheme has been working well for the team but the problem lies in the consistency of the coaching staff and the offense.
The Cowboys have had 5 defensive coordinators since 2007 with recent hiring of Kiffin. Brian Stewart came with Wade Phillips upon his hiring as head coach then replaced Stewart in 2009. After that, Paul Pasuqaloni took over briefly then Ryan taking the reins in 2010. With Kiffin’s hiring, there is no stability at the position as Mike Zimmer was there for 6 seasons prior to that. Averaging 3 years per coordinator isn’t getting the job done as we see that.
Dec 31, 2012; El Paso, TX, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin before the 2012 Sun Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
I am anxious to see what Monte Kiffin can do for the defense but the other looming problem is the offense. Jason Garrett’s offense has been comical at best, making bonehead decisions regarding clock management for one thing, then the inconsistency with the offensive line, the continuing saga of penalties especially “Holding #68”. Our team will not fare any better with a new defensive scheme if we can’t fight back with a productive offense. Should Rob Ryan have been fired? Should Jerry Jones stop worrying so much about the defense and find a top flight offensive coordinator? Good questions that can only be answered with a resounding “IDK”. I don’t know the answers but I do feel that Ryan should have been spared, given more time to work with the defense while the offense should have been addressed.