Rob Ryan rolled into town like a tumbleweed of Texan bluster. The Cowboys want that.
He brought scheme and savvy and smugness. Dallas can use it.
But he's tiptoeing a fine line between pride and pomp, a tightrope he can't fall from.
For now, he's taken to subtlety. When asked, Ryan didn't take jabs at the Philadelphia Eagles (though you'd wonder where he'd attack and how), but alluded to an "all-hype team" award and issued a challenge.
“These are proven players, and that’s what we need,” said Ryan, gushing over...Kenyon Coleman and his C-list Co. “I don’t know if we win the all-hype team [award]. I think that might have gone to somebody else. But we’re going to beat their ass when we play them.”
I'll give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the Fort Worth media hasn't decrypted Ryan's humor. Maybe Ryan hasn't figured out their trigger fingers.
But he can't balloon out of control. Ryan needs to be heat, not light -- and not hot air.
It would work, if this wasn't Dallas. That would fly, if Ryan was head coach.
How do you feel about Rob Ryan's gabbing at Eagles?
But it is, and he isn't.
This team went 26-22 the last three years, and now falls under Jason Garrett.
Why is Ryan tampering with that?
First order of business was sending malcontents and bad investments packing. The next? stripping Cowboys' rooks of their stars, an emblem of accomplishment and national icon and...apparently a privilege.
"You have to earn the right to wear that star, and we're very clear with the players about that," he told ESPN Dallas' Calvin Watkins, oozing with stoicism. "Just because you sign with the Dallas Cowboys doesn't mean you earned that thing yet."
Case in point: Roy Williams and Marion Barber. Garrett proved that point -- they were his cuts, reportedly -- even if it cost him.
A $20.9 million cap hit in 2012? (Yawn.)
Garrett doesn't tag integrity with a price. And Ryan shouldn't put a premium on a quotable.
Of all the intricacies of his defense and wrinkles of his humor, Ryan's not a journalist. Accuracy is irrelevant in the blogosphere and Twitterosphere and anything else round where buzz like this circulates.
Maybe the Eagles are overrated. Maybe they've muscled their way into the spotlight with back pocket public relations.
But that was a right they earned. They landed Vince Young. They wooed Donald Lee.
Not to mention the two guys they hustled Dallas for. Had the last card to shoot up in the Nnamdi Auctionugha been smeared in Dallas blue, Ryan would've bought an open forum to boast.
But it wasn't. He can't.
Especially after being out-elbowed for Cullen Jenkins. Like pouring transmission fluid in an open PR wound. Whether we needed him or not, the Cowboys vied.
It won't count toward Dallas' soon-to-be-sacked 11-5 record (oops...), but it chalks those up as losses.
If he is to follow Rex's walk to fame, Rob should note where Rex stumbled.
Bask but only in the glow of victory. Feel free to chirp but only after nudging others from the roost.
At least win your way to a platform. If Rob wants to bellow from the tips of the Davis Mountains, he should do it in Week 5, after he's mopped the first four games of the schedule with Jets, 49ers, Redskins and Lions.
If a 4-0 start comes and Ryan's defense shines, he can gab all he wants. Whether or not it's a bye week or if the Patriots are next.
If he has to, I'd yield while Ryan hoisted his megaphone and boomed.
But does he? Is the extroversion absolutely necessary?
Does rambunctiousness make Rex the consensus player favorite coach? Or do his results?
It's probably a little of both. Nobody wants to play for stiffs like Tom Coughlin and Eric Mangini, though nobody would for Wade Phillips.
True, Phillips' downfall was his laxness, and the team's respect teetered because of it. Though Philips lacked intensity and personality and flavor and vigor -- or anything, really.
And he didn't have everything, at least by the Bill Belichick rubric. He won. A lot.
But it didn't sate or faze or change him. Boston Globe staffer Dan Shaughnessy once broke news that all the celebratory bubble hadn't rotted out The Hood's teeth. They were there, Shaughnessy wrote, though you'd never know.
Maybe that's the line Ryan should walk:
The straight and narrow of a mouth wide shut.