Most fans were excited when Rob Ryan was announced as the new defensive coordinator for the Cowboys. Many expect that he will bring a more aggressive defense to the Cowboys and restore some of the swagger of recent years.
Rob Ryan has been making the rounds at Valley Ranch, and it appears that he has already made quite an impression on some of the key defensive players, among them the three defensive team captains, DeMarcus Ware, Bradie James and Keith Brooking. If Ryan wants to get the defense playing anywhere close to 2009 or 2008 levels, he'll have to start by rebuilding their belief in themselves - something that somehow got lost in 2010 - and he'll have to find the guys who'll buy into and spread his message. The team captains appear to have bought in, as have others:
DeMarcus Ware thinks the Cowboys will play with many more 'crazy' looks and will create havoc and confusion in opposing offenses. Bradie James expects the Cowboys to be much more aggressive and play with multiple defenses. Keith Brooking believes Ryan's intensity and demeanor will be infectious to the defense. Jay Ratliff is excited to be part of an attack-style defense. Sean Lee is looking forward to playing in a more confident defense.
After the break, the details of what each player said.
Cowboys’ linebacker DeMarcus Ware predicts that the Dallas defense will be more aggressive next year, blitzing more and, per ESPN Dallas, throw out more "crazy looks".
"I know what type of defense [Rob Ryan] has," said Ware, "He’s a pressure guy and will do a lot with the versatile guys that we have. I know it’s going to be good for us." Ware also expects "a lot more crazy looks and blitz like Wade but with a lot more crazy looks. Guys will have more responsibilities."
Ware recently explained to Pro Football Weekly how adding he thinks some quicker bodies in Ryan's scheme would create confusion and havoc in opposing offenses
"I think (Ryan) is going to be all attacking. Smaller, strong guys that are really quick. We're going to go in attack mode. (The rushers) are everywhere, man. That's what we need. More of that to create confusion and wreak havoc. It makes the offenses indecisive."
Linebacker Bradie James, in an interview with KESN-FM trancribed by the DMN, thinks Rob Ryan is just what the doctor ordered, an aggressive, fired-up coach:
I’m excited for the opportunity. I got a chance to meet him and he’s one of those fired up coaches, so that’s good. It looks like he’s going to be aggressive, which is what we need to be, so I’m just looking forward to it. ... So I got a chance to really see after talking to him – I think I talked to him Monday – he put a lot of stuff on the board and different schemes. So, it looks like we’ll be playing multiple defenses and I’m looking forward to it.
Keith Brooking was caught on tape by NBC Dallas Fort Worth and highlighted the intensity and demeanor of Rob Ryan:
I think it's a great hire. I think his intensity and his demeanor will be infectious to our to our defense, and I would venture to say he's got more talent on defense than he's had on the previous defenses that he's coached. That's not a knock against the other teams. We're in good hands with him. Like I said, that infectious attitude that he brings to the table and that intensity, that can run through our whole defense. It'll be very positive for everyone involved.
Jay Ratliff hasn't met Rob Ryan yet, but according to a report by Pro Football Weekly, he's fired up about getting to work with Ryan anyway:
"I have talked to a lot of different players about him, and everyone said good things," Ratliff said. "They say he has an attack-style of defense. You never know who is coming. And that's what we thrive on. The first year Coach Wade Phillips got there, it was the same thing. A lot more one-gap (responsibilities), slanting into the gaps."
Sean Lee, sharing the spotlight with Keith Brooking on NBC DFW's tape also hadn't met Ryan at the time of the interview, but had already heard positive things about him:
I think it’s great. I’ve met him before. He’s a motivator. He’s a great coach. I had a friend who played for him in Cleveland, all he said was great things about him. I think that’s a guy who can really bring the confidence back to our defense.
Lee further expanded on his thoughts in his recent interview with BTB after he had met with Ryan, again focusing on the confidence he will bring to the defense:
"You know Coach Ryan, he's not going to apologize, he's got that confidence that he's not going to apologize, and I think that's what we need, I think he's the guy to instill it back into us."
"I think there's a lot to this defense, there's a lot of looks, and I think he's going to make sure to give a lot of looks and it will be a pain for the offense. He's going to make sure we're in the best situation on defense that we can be in, and he's going to make sure that we are going to get after them. And we're going to be on the attack, and I like that, I think that's how a defense needs to play."