It appears that Rob Ryan has officially agreed to terms with the Cowboys to become their defensive coordinator. Jason Garrett searched extensively throughout the league for a defensive coordinator that could turn the defense around after their pitiful performance in 2010. Ryan certainly exudes the confidence of a man who thinks he can get the job done.
There has been a lot of talk about the defensive rankings that Ryan has compiled as a defensive coordinator. There are some great statistics that give you hope but also some scary statistics that make you wonder if Ryan will really be the answer. Here is a comparison of the 2010 Cleveland defense versus the 2010 Dallas defense:
Cleveland - 332 (20.8 PPG)
Dallas - 436 (27.2 PPG)
Cleveland - 5601 (350.1 YPG)
Dallas - 5628 (351.8 YPG)
Rushing Yards Allowed
Cleveland - 2070 (129.4 YPG, 4.1 per carry)
Dallas - 1734 (108.4 YPG, 4.3 per carry)
Passing Yards Allowed
Cleveland - 3531 (220.7 YPG, 84.8 QB rating)
Dallas - 3894 (243.4 YPG, 92.8 QB rating)
Cleveland - 19
Dallas - 20
Cleveland - 9 (9 forced)
Dallas - 10 (14 forced)
Cleveland - 3 (3 interceptions)
Dallas - 4 (3 interceptions, 1 fumble)
Cleveland - 29
Dallas - 35
While the statistics don't definitively prove anything about Rob Ryan I think it does show us that we should expect improvement from the defense under his coaching. You have to keep in mind that Cleveland did not have the talent on defense that Dallas does. Out of the 11 Cleveland season opening starters only one was a former first round pick. The Cowboys had six former first round picks starting until Marcus Spears was injured. Obviously it will be an upgrade in talent for Rob Ryan. How excited do you think Ryan will be to have Demarcus Ware at his disposal?
Perhaps with more talent on the defense Rob Ryan will call a more aggressive, attacking style defense than we have seen in Dallas in a long time. Wade Phillips loved to dial up blitzes but they usually came from the middle of the field and they were very rarely disguised very well. Ryan's defense in Cleveland moved around a lot before the snap to help confuse the offense and keep them guessing where the pressure would be coming from. I would love to see the same tactics employed by the Dallas defense.
The defense will still need to be upgraded at several positions, but a great scheme can help cover up the inadequacies at some positions. I have to believe that the Cowboys will be looking for a new free safety this offseason along with more depth on the defensive line. There is a serious lack of depth at outside linebacker as well. And the two starting middle linebackers aren't getting any younger. I don't see how the Cowboys can possibly fill all of their holes in the defense in one offseason so the scheme is going to have to be the difference maker.