Up until Wednesday, the Dallas Cowboys' search for a defensive coordinator was annoyingly predictable. We know Jerry Jones wants the next DC to have previous head coach experience, so it was no surprise the likes of Mike Zimmer and Ron Rivera were among the first candidates to be interviewed. The Cowboys have since settled on Zimmer to replace Dan Quinn.
The cookie-cutter approach changed on a dime when it was reported Rex Ryan interviewed for the job. The former Jets head coach has been out of the NFL since 2016. Even though Ryan is a brilliant defensive coach, eight years is a long time to be away from the game. That's actually an understatement.
The idea of Ryan joining forces with Mike McCarthy was exciting. Ryan's Jets defenses almost always ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed and he didn't have the support of a prolific offense with Mark Sanchez as his quarterback.
McCarthy and Ryan would have made for an interesting dynamic, but the latter's past criticism of the former as an analyst with ESPN made his interview with the Cowboys all the more baffling.
Rex Ryan has been criticial of Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy in the past
According to The Athletic, Ryan was critical of the Cowboys' decision to hire McCarthy before the 2020 season. Ryan believed part of McCarthy's success in Green Bay was attributed to the superstar play from QB Aaron Rodgers.
“You didn’t win,” Ryan said of McCarthy, per The Athletic. “You were like the rest of us when you didn’t have Aaron Rodgers.”
Additionally, Ryan blasted McCarthy for not pulling Dak Prescott in the fourth quarter of a lopsided loss against the Broncos in 2021. That same season, the 61-year-old Ryan eviscerated McCarthy for his clock management against the Chargers. Ryan didn't appreciate how McCarthy defended his decision-making.
“He tells a lie,” Ryan said of McCarthy’s postgame presser “Then you tell another lie. And then you tell another lie. It just keeps going. I’ve seen this a million times with kids. … You know who didn’t have composure? The head coach.”
See what we mean? Granted, this was three years ago and it's impossible to know if McCarthy is aware of Ryan's criticism. Still, it's no secret McCarthy isn't popular among the general media, and it would appear based on Ryan's repeated criticism of the Cowboys coach that he isn't his biggest fan.
Whether Ryan's feelings have changed is another mystery. The veteran coaches would've have to bury the hatchet if Ryan winds up with the job. It would've made for an awkward partnership, which makes the Zimmer hire all the more satisfying.