Report: Cowboys Fire Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas appears to be moving on from their outspoken defensive leader after an injury-riddled season.

According to ESPN Dallas, the Cowboys have relieved Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan of his duties. Ryan has led the Cowboys defense for the past two seasons. Lauded by many for being able to keep the Dallas defense as a somewhat functional unit despite a myriad of season-ending and debilitating injuries, Ryan will now be looking for employment elsewhere.

The Dallas defense started off the 2012 campaign in relatively fine fashion. Things took a turn for the worse when newly implemented safety Barry Church was lost for the year with an achilles tear. The team was already without Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who would end up missing the majority of the season with a litany of ailments. Soon after Church went down, Dallas would lose the centerpiece of their D, inside linebacker Sean Lee. By the time they left Thanksgiving, slot corner Orlando Scandrick, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and finally the other ILB Bruce Carter were all lost for the year. The Cowboys also lost backups on top of backups, making the task of leading the troops one of the most daunting in the NFL.

O.C.C. uncovered a stat that the average NFL defense had played 28 players at one mark of the season. To that point, Dallas had fielded 36. They signed Ernie Sims, Brady Poppinga, Eric Frampton, Charlie Peprah and others off the streets and gave them heavy playing time.

That excuse resonates with a lot of fans for the season. What they may be forgetting are all of the missteps along Rob's career. Rob has always been boisterous and outspoken. Yet it seemed that each time he would open his mouth about what the Cowboys were going to do, his unit did not come through. It may not be much of a leap to say that differs from head coaches Jason Garrett's philosophy.

When ESPN's Tim MacMahon caught up to Ryan, that bravado was still on display.

Also, quiet as kept, Rob Ryan has never really coordinated a top flight defense. Not in Dallas, nor in previous stops at Cleveland and Oakland. He was known for his exotic blitzes and schemes yet the Cowboys pass rush was often ineffective in crucial situations. When he signed on with Dallas he claimed that it was, by far, the most talented roster that he had ever coordinated. Dallas' sack total dropped to 34 on the season.

Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones warned that things would be very uncomfortable around Valley Ranch for the next few weeks. Some of the Dallas media scoffed yesterday when Running Backs Coach Skip Peete was let go. Well, they aren't scoffing now as this is a major move. Dallas will now at least have a new leader to coordinate their defense in 2013. Will a new offensive coordinator be far behind?

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For the record, as soon as the firings around the NFL started last Monday, I openly opined for Ryan to be let go if the club could get it's hands on Lovie Smith. As soon as Ken Whisenhunt and the Arizona GM were canned, I said I'd make Rob Ryan offer the job to Ray Horton himself. I'm also very interested to see if Matt Eberflus gets a shot at moving up to the big chair, but don't know if loyalty to Rob will come into play.

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