NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was fired Tuesday after his injury-depleted unit struggled in a pair of season-ending losses that kept the Cowboys out of the playoffs for a third straight year.
Ryan was let go a day after running backs coach Skip Peete was fired, and less than a week after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said things were going to get “uncomfortable” at team headquarters in nearby Irving.
“At this time, the decision has been made to move forward in a different direction philosophically on defense,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said in a statement. “I have an immense amount of respect for Rob as a person and as a football coach.”
Ryan spent two seasons with the Cowboys after he was fired two years into the same job in Cleveland. He didn’t hide his displeasure over being let go by the Browns before the Cowboys played them this season. He struck a different tone Tuesday.
“I enjoyed my time here,” Ryan told The Dallas Morning News. “I have no hard feelings. But it doesn’t matter if I coach here or not. I will find another spot.”
Will that be with his twin brother Rex Ryan in New York?
Perhaps, but don’t bet on it. The Jets are expected to elevate defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman to defensive coordinator. But that doesn’t mean Rob Ryan couldn’t land a lesser position with Gang Green.
The Rex-Rob conversation quickly raged on Twitter.
“The Ryans know that it’s not really good for Rob’s career to be under Rex unless necessary,” tweeted Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.
Boston Globe sports writer Chad Finn offered a zinger, “Wouldn’t put it past the Jets to hire Rob Ryan as *offensive* coordinator.”
Fox Sports insider Jay Glazer was concrete on what will — or rather, what won’t happen: “And no Rex will NOT be hiring Rob Ryan.”
The Cowboys finished with four defensive starters on injured reserve, including both Sean Lee and Bruce Carter at inside linebacker — a critical position for Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. A fifth starter, nose tackle Jay Ratliff, missed all but six games with ankle and groin injuries. Nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick was sidelined the last five games with a wrist injury.
Several Dallas players reacted with surprise on Twitter.
“It was a privilege to play under Coach Rob Ryan! One of the greatest,” defensive end Jason Hatcher wrote. “Sad day. I’m hurting right now.”
The Cowboys finished 14th in total defense this season under Ryan, but couldn’t stop the New Orleans passing game or the Washington rushing attack when they still controlled their playoff fate in the last two weeks of the regular season.
Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 overtime win for New Orleans. Dallas still had playoff hopes in the finale against Washington, but rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards despite quarterback Robert Griffin being limited by a right knee injury in the Redskins’ 28-18 win.
The Cowboys were 19th in total defense in Ryan’s first year but had one of the worst pass defenses in team history.
Following consecutive 8-8 seasons, Dallas is 128-128 since the start of 1997 season. The Cowboys have just one playoff win in that span.
Jets fans — do you want a little R&R on your team? Sound off in the comments!
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