The Dallas Cowboys came close again in 2012-13, missing the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion with another Week 17 divisional loss. Then, in typical Cowboys fashion, Dallas elected to inexplicably fire Rob Ryan after he rebuilt an atrocious defense while keeping head coach Jason Garrett after he derailed a talented offense.
It’s never good when you can point to several games each year and blame the head coach. Whether as blatant as choosing not to call timeouts on a final drive in Baltimore Week Six, or as simple as abandoning the run each week, Garrett’s coaching blunders crippled the Cowboys last season. Dallas’ 118 penalties can be traced back to Garret and his inability to prepare his team against an injured Washington Redskins team in Week 17; this is unforgivable. While many of his errors are, right or wrong, passed onto Tony Romo, it’s amazing that Garrett kept his job.
Equally amazing is that the Cowboys think it is a good idea to fire a talented defensive coordinator that rebuilt a horrible secondary, and led a stingy 3-4 defense without NFL-caliber middle linebackers.
Rob Ryan was the best thing to happen to the Dallas Cowboys last season. He vastly improved a bad defense, transforming a tremendous liability into a passable sort of mediocrity, which kept the Cowboys in games while the offense stumbled. One of the worst secondaries in the NFL crept towards the middle of the pack, and his schemes made the most of Dallas’ middling talent.
Perhaps most impressively, Rob Ryan held the defense together when injuries to his middle linebackers led to signing players off the street to fill a void. Arguably, the most important players on the defense went down, but Ryan kept Dallas competitive. Running a 3-4 defense when the top three inside linebackers are out is no simple feat.
Rob Ryan earned another year in Dallas, and Jason Garrett earned his termination. The Cowboys inexplicably fired the wrong guy, and they’ll regret it in 2013.