Almost exactly a year ago, Rob Ryan was announced with great fanfare as the Cowboys new defensive coordinator. Two weeks later, the Cowboys brought in Brian Baker as defensive line coach, Matt Eberflus was announced as the linebacker coach, and Ray Horton narrowly declined the Cowboys secondary job in favor of a position as DC in Arizona.
With these sweeping changes to the defensive coaching staff came the expectation that the Cowboys would also upgrade some of their defensive player personnel. Yet by the time the Cowboys had made their eight picks in the April draft, they had only picked two defensive players. Second-rounder Bruce Carter was just coming off an ACL injury and didn't see any meaningful playing time this season and fifth-round pick Josh Thomas didn't make it out of camp.
Rob Ryan took it in stride and soldiered on, after all, Jerry Jones himself said they'd get Ryan some help in free agency. Apparently, Jones called Ryan during the draft and asked him about selecting some defensive players.
"I said, 'Let's talk about this guy,'" Jones said. "He knew the ones he was interested in went early and what that does is put pressure on us to get the free agents."
Well, that may not have turned out quite as Ryan wanted.
The Cowboys did get some help in free agency, but perhaps not quite the caliber of players Cowboys fans expected, especially after the public flirtation with Nnamdi Asomugha.
But Ryan kept quiet after that as well, which is a surprise for the usually boisterous Ryan, but is a quality that appears to have kept him in good graces with Stephen Jones, who said:
"Rob's the best when it comes to that. He's just tells me, 'Who I'm coaching, I'll have them ready.'"
When other teams advance in the playoffs in January, the Cowboys have made it a tradition to begin their self-scouting. Last year was no different.
Unfortunately, that self-scouting led the Cowboys to the conclusion that their defensive woes were more about scheme than personnel:
"We probably should give Rob Ryan some due here," Jerry Jones said. "I do feel our defense personnel will play better than last year and we did underachieve last year, and I want to be able to say that without throwing [Wade Phillips] under the bus."
Let's hope that their self-scouting this year will lead to that minor misunderstanding being cleared up.
One thing that's pretty sure though is that Rob Ryan will not stand idly by for a third time waiting for some help on defense. Rob has been waiting for his presents for quite a while now.
This time, he'll be ready to collect.