Many people were shocked at Rob Ryan being fired from his position of defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. His supporters say that he was in charge of a defense that fought through a horrendous rash of injuries that saw 7 starters get hurt and had the Cowboys signing players mid season and starting them that following Sunday. Those supporters also point to Tony Romo’s interception, head coach Jason Garrett’s clock mismanagement and conservative play calling as the real issues.
“I inherited a team that was 31st in the league in defense and made them better,” Ryan told ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon. “I (expletive) made them a hell of a lot better. I’ll be out of work for like five minutes.”
“When we weren’t short-handed, we were kicking ass,” Ryan said.
Jerry Jones however isn’t buying those excuses and believes that injuries are not the reason for defensive struggles. Jones went on KTVT in Dallas and pointed to losses against Seattle in Week 2 and at home against Chicago in Week 4, when the defense was healthy, as the reason he made the decision.
“I thought we could play better before the injuries, and so I factored that in,” Jones said, via ESPNDallas.com. “It wasn’t like we had a lot of injuries out here when we played Chicago. It wasn’t like we had a lot of injuries when we played Seattle. I didn’t like the way we played there. It’s not hard for me to go to those games and say what can we do to improve when we played Seattle and when we played Chicago.”
Some Cowboys fans and Ryan supporters would point out that Tony Romo threw 5 interceptions against Chicago. Against Seattle Tony Romo had a pedestrian 57.5% completions. He went 23 out of 40 that game. And in those two games combined only threw 2 touchdown passes. Against Seattle he had a quarterback rating of 74.1 and against Chicago it dropped to a 60.1 rating.
“It’s not hard for me to go to those games and say what can we do to improve when we played Seattle and when we played Chicago, and I liked the way we played in subsequent games and I know we didn’t have the talent level on the field that we had when we played Seattle and Chicago,” Jones added.
“I think I did a good job and I think our staff did a good job on defense trying to compete with what we had at the end of the year,” Ryan told MacMahon. “But the best job we did was when we were able to coach our starters.”
But Jerry continually points to those games to defend his decision.
“It’s not hard for me to go back there and say, ‘OK, we had all of our players out there we had our talent level there,’ ” Jones said. “That’s what we’ve been saying we didn’t have. Now let’s evaluate that. When we had all of our talent level, we’ve got to be able to beat Chicago at home and we’ve got to be able to go to Seattle and win that game there.
“We know they’re formidable. We know Seattle had a good football team and I don’t think we underestimated Seattle at all when we played them. But you’re going to have to get to where we want to go and you have to go into Seattle and win games in Seattle.”
And the comparisons to Al Davis have begun in Dallas with people saying that Jones simply needed a scapegoat and after brashly promising change and discomfort at Valley Ranch he needed to let someone go. Ryan simply drew the short end of the stick. Jones disagrees with that notion continuing to defend his decision.
“We certainly do need to not change for change sake,” he said. “But basically we need to look at what we’re doing. I’ve heard it even criticized that maybe we shouldn’t look at the matchups. We play six games in a 16-game schedule against our division, and we need to be successful in that division. We let Washington beat us twice this year, Philadelphia beat us twice last year — so all of those things are under our consideration.”
Well many believe this will lead to a switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Jones also said if anyone currently on the defensive staff wanted the vacant coordinator position, they would have to apply like everyone else.
Who’d want to with that kind of loyalty?