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Cowboys Search For Defensive Coordinator Shifts Into High Gear

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The Cowboys' search for a defensive coordinator shifted into a higher gear yesterday when Adam Shefter reported that the Cowboys are pursuing Rob Ryan for the DC position. Ryan is expected to interview with Coach Garrett today.

According to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Pat Shurmur taking over as head coach for the Browns has likely expedited Ryan's departure from Cleveland ("out of the mix and out of the office despite being under contract"). While Ryan has a year left on his contract with the Browns, reports say he was conspicuously absent when Shurmur was introduced as the head coach on Thursday. The Cowboys also received permission from the Steelers to interview their secondary coach Ray Horton.

Interviewing Rob Ryan signals the end of the first phase of interviews in Dallas and rings in phase two.

In the first phase of his search for a new DC, Coach Garrett interviewed Vic Fangio and Greg Manusky, while Jerry Jones interviewed Todd Bowles, ostensibly for the head coaching position. Not one of this trio had any realistic chances for a head coaching position anywhere in the NFL, and arguably their current ceiling in the NFL is a DC position. Manusky today appears to be the choice as the Chargers' DC, Fangio is expected to take the 49ers job and the chances of Bowles landing the Cowboys job were slim to nonexistent to begin with.

The second phase of the search began yesterday, when Rob Ryan was announced as a candidate in Dallas. Ryan is the first candidate to be interviewed whose name has been repeatedly brought up for head coaching jobs.

What changed between the first and the second phase is that outside of the Raiders' job, all NFL head coaching vacancies have already been filled:

  • Cowboys - Jason Garrett, 44, offensive coordinator
  • Vikings - Leslie Frazier, 51, defensive coordinator
  • 49ers - Jim Harbaugh, 47, Stanford head coach
  • Panthers - Ron Rivera, 49, defensive coordinator
  • Browns - Pat Shurmur, 45, offensive coordinator
  • Broncos - John Fox, 55, Panthers head coach
  • Raiders - open

A number of the bigger coaching names who'd had aspirations for a head coaching job suddenly find themselves holding the short straw in the yearly coaching sweepstakes, and the Dallas DC position just became that much more attractive to a handful of possible candidates.

Rob Ryan's name had repeatedly been mentioned in connection with some of the head coaching vacancies around the league. He did interview with the Panthers, and he remains on the list of candidates for the Oakland job. But other than that, his next best choice would be a DC position.

The same holds true for Dom Capers in Green Bay (linked to Denver HC job), Mike Nolan (also linked to Denver) in Miami and Eric Mangini, currently without a job: their chances for a vertical move this season are done, which leaves a lateral move as their only option if they want to move this season - and Dallas may just be one of the most attractive DC positions in the league. If Garrett was the highest paid coordinator in the league, why not continue that tradition with the defensive coordinator? I'm sure Jerry could get that done if necessary.

ESPNDallas speculates that current Georgia DC and former Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham could also still be a candidate in the Dallas coaching carousel.

Soooo ..... how would you feel about a Ryan in Dallas?