There is a lot to look forward to for Cowboys fans in the new season. The return of a healthy Romo, Dez Bryant playing up to his potential, Sean Lee having a breakout year, perhaps some free agent acquisitions. But the one thing I'm most looking forward to is to see what Rob Ryan can do with the Cowboys defense.
Seems that Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler shares my excitement. In fact, he says he's "super excited". Rainer Sabin from the DMN caught up with the third-year player at a football camp in Plano, and this is what Butler had to say about Rob Ryan's defense:
"It's crazy. You've got d-linemen lining up at the free safety spot. I'd love to see Jay Ratliff line up where Alan Ball is. It sounds crazy but when you get out there and run it it makes a lot of sense. I am super excited. I was hoping for [organized team activities]. That's how excited I was. Nobody hopes for OTAs. But I was hoping for OTAs so we can get in this defense and run this defense."
I'm not sure about the idea of lining up Jay Ratliff at free safety (was Alan Ball that bad?), but I'm willing to give Ryan the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Before the lockout began, Rob Ryan was able to teach the Cowboys defensive players the fundamentals of his defensive scheme, albeit only in a classroom environment.In a series of "cram sessions" at Valley Ranch during the 52 days between his January 19 hiring and the March 12 lockout, Ryan made sure the players got a good understanding of the fundamentals of his defense. According to ILB Sean Lee, Ryan gave the Cowboys a "ton of information" about his scheme prior to the lockout. Enough apparently to leave Butler suitably impressed.
"Crazy guy, great guy, a players' coach," Butler said of Ryan. "He knows his stuff. He knows the game of football. We don't have all the tricks and all the gadgets we would normally have if we had the OTAs. But on the basic level, we know what we need to know."
It's good news to see Victor Butler buying in to Ryan's defense. Not just because it gives us Cowboys fans a warm, fuzzy feeling, but because the OLB's are some of the most critical players in Ryan's scheme. In one of the few public statements available from Ryan since he was hired almost half a year ago, The San Francisco Chronicle's David White quoted Ryan on the importance of outside linebackers for his defensive scheme:
"If you're going to play a 3-4 defense and don't have outside backers, you don't have a defense," said 3-4 expert Rob Ryan. "You've got to be able to set the edge and rush a passer. It starts with them. They've got to be playmakers. That's what you get in a 3-4."
Coach Garrett is keeping all his assistant coaches on a very short leash regarding their contact with the media, so as a fanbase, we haven't really seen, heard or read a lot from the new coaches. But from the little I have seen and read from Rob Ryan in his first six months, I can almost feel the energy he brings to this team.
And if even half the players are as eager as Victor Butler to get going, good things will be waiting for Cowboys fans.