An Open Letter to Rob Ryan

Coach Ryan;

Recently you went on record with your version of the events that led to your being dismissed from the position of defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. According to your interpretation of the event, you were dismissed due to the rash of injuries suffered by your charges. Here is a direct statement that you made to Jennifer Hale of

"I’ll be honest with you: these injuries – they’re outstanding players, but hell, that’s nothing compared to what I’ve been used to," Ryan said. "I’m used to a whole team being hurt, and then getting fired because of it, so whatever."

That, sir, may be your opinion; however, there is much more to the story than you are willing to admit. Your defensive schemes have continually failed to produce, they are too challenging for players to learn, and your personal lack of self control have factored into the fact that you no longer patrol the Cowboys sideline.

In all fairness, it must be admitted that you did lose key players including Sean Lee, Barry Church, Bruce Carter, Jay Ratliff, and Kenyon Coleman; however, had the injuries been the only issue, I have no doubt that the Cowboys would have retained your services. The fact remains, your defenses have been consistently sub-par at every stop you have made as a defensive coordinator. Lets take a look at how those defenses have ranked in terms of scoring allowed.

OAKLAND: 2004 - 31st; 2005 - 25th; 2006 - 18th; 2007 - 26th; 2008 - 24th

CLEVELAND: 2009 - 21st; 2010 - 13th

DALLAS: 2011 - 16th; 2012 - 24th

Your defense could not keep anyone off of the scoreboard. Coach Ryan, even with your bravado, you must admit that only two of your nine seasons were even in the top half of the league, and those were just barely inside it. There is a saying in football: Defense wins championships. Your defenses did not contend for, much less win a championship. Might this have had a major impact on your tenure under Jason Garrett?

Since you brought up injuries; I would be remiss to not call attention to the fact that, in all three of your stops as coordinator, the injury bug has shown a particular affinity for your players. To me, a logical person would evaluate themselves to determine two things. First of all, what, if anything, could be done to reverse the injury trend, and second, how to better adapt to the injuries once they occur. In short, Coach Ryan, your defensive schemes are far too complex for today's game. Not only are they tough for a player off the street to pick up on; they were so confusing that your players that had been in the system for two years were also clueless. When it is the entire defense, sir, it is the coach and/or scheme that must be held accountable; not the players. Both Jerry and Stephen Jones have said as much.

We felt like too many schemes can cause problems regardless of how good they are and how sound they are. If there is more than the players can digest in this day and time - as you don't keep players for long, they move on and you have injuries - you just had to make a decision.

Stephen Jones, as quoted by Nakia Hogan of the Times-Picayune

"I thought we could play better before the injuries, and so I factored that in. It wasn't like we had a lot of injuries out here when we played Chicago. It wasn't like we had a lot of injuries when we played Seattle. I didn't like the way we played there.

Jerry Jones speaking to ESPNDallas

Clearly, Coach, it was not the injury situation that was the cause of your demise. It was your scheme and the fact that it created confusion for your players. Even Jason Garrett got in on the act, albeit in his own manner. Garrett said: "At this time, the decision has been made to move forward in a different direction philosophically on defense." Coach Ryan, after looking at film, you had to have noticed the confusion your charges were experiencing. The rest of the league did. Clearly your superiors did too; they cited it as the primary reason for your firing.

No doubt, your lack of self discipline played a role as well. Coach Ryan, Starting with the first game of the season, NBC's cameras caught you taunting the New York Giants bench. You challenged New York coach Tom Coughlin to "Go for it F@#%face." While that may be passed off as enthusiasm, you followed up by arguing with an opposing player during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Speaking to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, Jason Garrett had this to say about your drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for that incident:

"There were a couple of times we felt their quarterback moved in the pocket and our guys were getting held," Jason Garrett said. "And as a reaction on the sidelines, our guys were emotional about that. One of their players came over and kind of hollered at our sidelines, and Rob hollered back. "We can’t do that. We have to keep our emotions in check."

In addition, unconfirmed reports indicate that you were a habitual "No Show" for your own defensive meetings during the 2012 season. It seems that your linebackers coach, Matt Eberflus, was actually running the Dallas defense in your place. I don't know of many employers, in any field, who are willing to pay an employee for not doing his job. As a Human Resources attorney/consultant, my experience has always been that those are the people that they usually terminate.

As I have shown, Coach Ryan, injury played only a minor role in your being fired by the Cowboys. Key factors in your dismissal were a lack of actually stopping opponents, overly complex schemes that hindered the players ability to execute their responsibilities, and a complete lack of self control on your part. To conclude this letter, let me cite a comment I received recently from one of the front page writers on Blogging The Boys, Mr. Tom Ryle:

Only one point that really matters, at least for me.

"Sir, Jason Garrett has made it clear he is not tolerating assholes. Enjoy your stay in New Orleans, which obviously does."

With that thought, Coach Ryan, I will close this missive.

Respectfully yours


Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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