When it comes to the NFL, coaches being fired barely moves the meter for me. The entire landscape of coaches in the league is like one of those white elephant Christmas exchanges. All the bad teams just keep passing around crappy coaches year after year hoping to get something good out of that package that someone else didn’t want. But when I heard today that the Dallas Cowboys had decided to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan I had to pause a moment. Was Ryan really the reason for the Cowboys’ problems?
The logical person in me of course says no. Ryan had to deal with a tremendous amount of injuries along his defense and was piecing starting lineups together at times. It was difficult for them to rush the passer, and that really exposed a secondary that was at times quite over matched. But the reality of it is Ryan has never had a defense that has made the post-season. Ever. Statistically Ryan has had some years that stood out, but by in large his defenses have usually been strong in certain areas while weaker in others. He was typically the architect of groups that were less than the sums of their parts.
So, it makes sense that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones fired him? Probably not. Jones is a bit of a loose cannon when it comes to ownership but even more than that he’s publicly committed himself to head coach Jason Garrett. So much so at this point, I’m not sure that this season he could have fired Garrett if he had wanted to. So what is the next best thing? You make a token firing to a coach who did little to add to or take away from the team’s situation.
As for Ryan’s future, I’m not sure if another team is going to snatch him up to run their entire defense, but I’m sure that he can find his way to another job, perhaps as a linebackers coach similar to the role he played for the New England Patriots in the early 2000’s. But for now Cowboys fans, you can take comfort in knowing you handed off that white elephant but can be fairly confident that the package you are getting back will be better.