The Dallas Cowboys' disastrous season has yielded the unlikeliest of pairings on the new and hopefully much improved coaching staff.
Jason Garrett’s first move as head coach of the Cowboys was to let highly-regarded receivers coach Ray Sherman leave when his contract expired. This came as a shock to most people since Sherman had just interviewed for the head coaching position less than a week before he was let go.
Sherman leaving was a surprise, but not nearly as much of a surprise as Rob Ryan being named the new defensive coordinator for the Cowboys.
Who would have ever thought that one of Buddy Ryan’s sons would grow up to be a Cowboy?
Aside from the fact that his father is perhaps the most hated man in Cowboys history, this hiring is also surprising because it was made by Jason Garrett. This is not to say that Garrett doesn’t appreciate what Ryan brings to the table as a coordinator, but rather a commentary on the difference in their personalities.
This pairing is destined to be the NFL’s version of “The Odd Couple” with Garrett playing the role of Felix Unger and Ryan the role of Oscar Madison.
Garrett, born in the northeast, is a reserved, well-spoken, Ivy League graduate. His close-cropped red hair is normally hidden under a baseball cap. His clean-shaven face makes him look much younger than his years.
Ryan, born in the southwest, is boisterous and outspoken. His long gray hair flows as freely as his spirit. His scruffy gray beard makes him look more like an aging rock star than a football coach.
At first blush, it would appear that Garrett and Ryan don’t belong together, but they are actually more alike than their outward appearances would indicate.
Both Men Are of the Same Generation
Although Garrett looks much younger, he and Ryan were born less than four years apart.
Both Men Were Born Into Football Families
Garrett’s father, Jim, briefly played in the NFL before embarking on an extensive career as a coach and an NFL scout. His two brothers, John and Judd, both went into coaching when their playing days came to an end.
Ryan’s twin brother, Rex, is the head coach of the New York Jets. His father, Buddy, creator of the “46 defense,” coached in the NFL for nearly 30 years. He was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1986-1990. In that short amount of time, he managed to become “Public Enemy No. 1” to many Dallas Cowboys fans.
As Unlikely As This Pairing Seems on Paper, in Actuality, It Makes Perfect Sense
Garrett knows offense. Even though people have questioned his decisions as an offensive coordinator at times, the fact remains that the Cowboys offense scored more than enough points to win the three games that they lost under Garrett. If not for the defensive letdowns, the Cowboys may very well have won the final eight games of the season.
Ryan knows defense. Bloodline aside, Ryan has studied under defensive mastermind Bill Belichick in addition to working with Eric Mangini. This season, the student became the master as Ryan’s Cleveland Brown defense held the explosive New England Patriot offense to 14 points. The only other team to hold the Patriots under 23 points this season was Rex Ryan’s New York Jets.
Hiring Ryan Shows That Garrett and the Cowboys Are Willing To Leave Their Comfort Zone
It would have been easy for Garrett to justify keeping Paul Pasqualoni as the defensive coordinator. In the final eight games of the season, the Cowboys defense was much more opportunistic than they were under Wade Phillips, generating more sacks and more turnovers.
However, the Cowboys continued to give up far too many points to be considered legitimate playoff contenders going forward.
Cowboy Fans Will Embrace Ryan for What He Brings to the Table
If Ryan returns the Cowboy defense to their 2009 form, fans will look past the fact that he is the son of the most notorious coach to ever walk the visiting sidelines in the history of the franchise. After all, winning hides a multitude of sins.
If Cowboy fans were able to embrace Terrell Owens after his disgraceful touchdown celebrations on the star in the middle of the field while he was with the 49ers, they certainly will have no trouble embracing Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator.