The news of Rob Ryan’s firing as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator sent minor shockwaves through the NFL. The Cowboys defense was average at best under Ryan’s leadership, and the team’s 2012 finish likely led to his dismissal.
Team owner Jerry Jones said that things were going to get uncomfortable at Valley Ranch, and he has made two steps to ratchet up the discomfort.
On Monday, Jones decided to part ways with longtime running backs coach Skip Peete. Dallas only rushed for 1,265 rushing yards in 2012, a number good enough for lowest in team history.
But the waves were made with Ryan leaving Dallas. He was loud, boisterous, blitz-happy and brought a new bravado to the Cowboys franchise.
Ryan’s bark was louder than his bite during his brief tenure in Dallas. The Cowboys finished 19th in defense in 2012, ranked 14th in the NFC with a -13 giveaway/takeaway ratio, and were 26th in total interceptions.
His defense just didn’t make enough plays.
Although things didn’t work out for the oversized coach, the defensive problems in Dallas weren’t all his fault.
Injuries were a big problem, the Cowboys lost nose tackle Jay Ratliff, linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, safety Barry Church, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and a host of others. It was almost impossible for Ryan to put a strong group of starters on the field, so the defense struggled.
In the end, Jones decided to rid the team of Ryan, not the players on the field. Just as Ryan’s job was vulnerable in 2012, there should be a number of Cowboys defensive players worried about their positions next season as well.
Here are five players playing for their jobs in 2013.