I waffled for a while. But I've flipped.
Maybe Rob Ryan's edge is a necessary evil.
No, I'd prefer he didn't warm to bravado. That he wasn't gruff by default. That he hadn't chose mouth over muscle.
And needless to say, Ryan didn't change my mind. Nothing he's done or said since unsubtly and unapologetically blasting the Eagles and promising a whupping made me reconsider.
Though it came in spite of this inglorious second act...
"You can't talk noise if you don't have the players to back it up," Ryan said Friday, demonstrating the antithesis of backpedaling. "We always walk the walk. Anybody that knows a Ryan knows they walk the walk.
"Our guys are gonna be good, and we know it. So that ain't talkin'. That's just the (bleepin') way it is."
Even that. Tactless and frank, instant Ryan vintage that's not changing or relenting or submitting.
Take him for all he is: half maniac.
Do you think quieting Rob Ryan would negatively affect his coaching performance?
Wish it weren't so, but this team needs both. It can't have one without the other.
We can learn to live with that.
For one, it's genuine. It's Rob the Realist, not Rob the (Side) Showman.
Had Rob the affinity to the camera as Rex, I'd write him off as self-important and somewhat irritating. But save for a game of cell phone hot potato, I haven't seen a picture snapped, nor heard a video taped tirade.
So it's not like he's doing it for attention.
Nor is he at the expense of performance. Despite craters like Oakland and Cleveland, and 15-49 (2004 to 2007) and 14-34 (2008 to 2010) hauls, Ryan's pursuit of haughtiness was never a problem. Bad as it's been in Dallas, you figure it can't slide to that breed of worse.
Even if it does, rest assured the blow-up won't start with Ryan.
Still, the only way the 'Boys seem bound for is up—much a credit to Ryan. Retooling the scheme- and spinlessness of the defense that enabled its 22 losses these last three years, Ryan won't let Dallas drop another seven games in which they've posted 20 points, how all but three in 2010 were lost.
To avoid one, you must embrace the other. They're not mutually exclusive, as inseparable as Brett Favre and boneheadedness.
(Poor choice of words...Apology to Ms. Sterger.)
Maybe to get the fierce and elegant blitzes, you agree to shots fired in the media.
So what? Isn't that worth it?
Weren't impossible, tiptoeing Greg Lewis grabs worth Favre's knuckleheaded interceptions?
These two are linked: Gabbing is Ryan's mojo. It fuels him. Drives him. Moves him. What makes him tick, as reflexive as jokes for comedians and hits for linebackers.
Imagine stripping Ryan of that. Risky as giving him free reign is for the Garrett Regime, think of the unintended consequences of a gag order. It might keep Ryan off of cork boards, but just as possibly throw him off his game.
Why chance that?
Look: Comfort begets performance. It's the same reason rookies choke: they're uncozy with the pressure-cooking crucibles of playoff and championship games -- ones hardened vets can handle.
Same goes for work. A hectic first day on the job usually comes with errors. But soon as you settle in, when faces soften and responsibilities make sense, the mistakes seem to stop.
Maybe that's Ryan's comfort zone: Chaos. Craziness. Comedy.
Or whatever makes his scheme click with players. Remember: They're the cogs, the instruments in Ryan's blitz-blaring orchestra.
And right now, while he's squawking away at the Birds, they're singing—praises.
"Once you see the schemes and what he's trying to get done, guys playing different roles, it makes it really fun," said Cowboys Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff. "You'll never know where we're coming from."
If I drew my blueprint for a perfect Dallas, I'd write Ryan's semantics out. I'd build a bubble around Jason Garrett's first-year podiums, letting nothing but monotone and accountability out.
I wouldn't go for the stuffiness of Eric Mangini's clubs, per se. But the team-wide whispers of the NFL's pied piper, Michael Vick, whose mumbling seems almost magnetic—Nnamdi Asomugha, Vince Young and Ronnie Brown were high on Philadelphia, they say, because of Vick, pointedly introverted since his days in Leavenworth—would work for me.
No rumbling. Just results.
Still, this isn't a vacuum. It isn't simple. It's dynamic and intricate.
Like it or loathe it, Ryan's brand of brazen might be woven in too tightly to rip out.