(Photo by Tim Sharp, Caller.com)
Rob Ryan has overstayed his welcome in Dallas, and Jerry Jones’ promise of big changes has landed not only at the feet of Skip Peete. I was a fan of Rob when he was hired, and I don’t know that I’m not a fan of him today. I think he will be successful in future stops. I like his schemes. I think he gets a little too exotic at times, and I have no idea how he so often put out 9, 10, or 12 men on the field. I love his charisma, I love his attitude, and to be honest, I think I would have loved to play for him.
I don’t think he was hired by Jason Garrett – I think Rob Ryan is all Jerry. I think that the two personalities clashed more than once. Garrett asked him to tone down the tough talk in year one, and asked him to tone down the blitzing in year two. At full strength this season his defense was difficult to score on, but couldn’t get a turnover to save their lives. Late in the year, although injured, they were pitiful, needing Romo and the offense to score 30 to have a chance in most games. Getting run over the way they did against Washington proved to be inexcusable, whether or not they were missing 5 starters and a backup.
On a positive note, this move may allow the Cowboys to go back to a 4-3 defense, and really with the history of this club that’s what they should be. The move would not only be about history, but also about getting the most out of the personnel currently at Valley Ranch. Imagine a world were DeMarcus Ware and the sure-to-be-resigned Anthony Spencer never drop back in coverage. Imagine Sean Lissemore, Tyrone Crawford, Jason Hatcher, and Marcus Spears as traditional defensive tackles. All of a sudden the loss of Jay Ratliff and Josh Brent are no longer so crippling. There is less need to find a giant nose tackle early in the draft. Dan Connor could even be an option as a strong side linebacker. This team has the parts to build a Jimmy Johnson era 4-3 built on sideline-to-sideline speed.
The decisions on the replacements of Skip Peete and Rob Ryan need to be made now - and by Jason Garrett. You have to know which defense you are plugging players into before you go into the draft, even before you start your evaluations for the draft. And I am really hoping the 4-3 is the direction that they take into the future.
The real question with a 4-3 is this: can Sean Lee and Bruce Carter play as well with 600 pounds in front of them as they did with 900 pounds in front of them. I think the answer is truly yes. While neither player is big on taking on blocks, both have the quickness and instincts to get around blocks and make plays. Also, they both seem to be perfect fits for a Cover 2 style base defense that drops linebackers in deep zones to make plays in the passing game. I also really like the idea of Sean Lee being responsible for picking up backs out of the backfield as opposed to DeMarcus Ware pulling out of his rush, making the read and chasing someone half his size down the sideline.
4-3 or 3-4 is not the most important question in this debate though. The most important question is who is doing the hiring. Now is Jason Garretts’ time, and guessing by the rolling heads at Valley Ranch, that time is running short. It is imperative for the future of the Dallas Cowboys that Garrett make these calls. He needs to be given a real chance to succeed, with a running backs coach that doesn’t undermine him and a defensive coordinator that falls in line behind him. Guys that he doesn’t have to wonder if they are more interested in building their resume then helping him win. Guys that can mimic his message, and share his vision in building a football team.
His guys; not Jerrys’.