Rob Ryan's Past Success Against Patriots Bodes Well for Cowboys

By Jeric Griffin

The Dallas Cowboys’ current situation is identical to one Rob Ryan excelled in a year ago. As defensive coordinator for the Browns last season, Ryan’s defense held the New England Patriots to 14 points in a Cleveland victory. That game came directly following the Brown’s bye week. Dallas will play at New England after its bye this week and Ryan is looking to continue his success against the Patriots as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.

In a 34-14 Browns win over the Patriots last year, Ryan’s unit held New England quarterback Tom Brady to just 224 yards and only 19 completions on 36 pass attempts. That completion percentage of 52 was worlds lower than Brady’s season average of 66. This year, the Patriots boast the NFL’s top passing attack, throwing the ball 40 times for roughly 385 yards per game. Brady’s completion percentage is still at 66, but Ryan is hoping to change that in Week 6.

Unlike most NFL defensive minds, Ryan and his twin brother, New York Jets head coach Rex, know how to get under Brady and the Patriots’ skin. The defensive genes they carry have served them well in their short NFL careers. Rob Ryan constructed a masterpiece against the Patriots with an average Browns unit. Now he gets a crack at New England with a more talented defense.

Ryan’s 2010 Browns beat the Patriots by using a wide variety of defensive looks and blitz packages. The only way to rattle Brady is to physically get to him. Brady is an excellent quarterback, but it helps that he’s one of the fewest sacked passers in the league. By using an array of exotic blitzes, Ryan can make that a fairly more common occurrence.

The thing that makes the Ryans’ defenses unique is their aggressiveness; neither of them is afraid to try something new. For years, a cardinal NFL rule was to never blitz two defenders in the same gap. That trend was trashed by the Ryans. Rex Ryan has several victories against the Patriots thanks to his blitzing two defenders in the same “A” gap and using delayed blitzes.

Rob Ryan is actually favors the latter, although he utilizes the newer trend as well. The Cowboys’ defensive architect is bringing a kind of pass rush to Dallas that hasn’t been seen in the storied franchise’s entire history. So why will his tactics continue to work against great quarterbacks like Brady if guys like me notice them? He keeps coming up with something newer; something better.

Ryan might blitz a cornerback and an inside linebacker through the same “B” gap for all we know. However, it will most likely work to perfection if he tries it. New, exotic schemes like that work well way more often than not.

Regardless of whether Brady and the Patriots think they know what’s coming, the Ryans will show them something new in Weeks 5 and 6 of this season. Rex Ryan’s Jets get the Patriots on Sunday and Rob Ryan’s Cowboys travel to New England a week later. The NFL and its fans are in for two consecutive treats. If nothing else, both games will be entertaining, regardless if the team you’re rooting for wins.

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