He may have been in the news for recently saying that the Dallas Cowboys would kick the ass of the NFL’s newest all-hype team (referring to the Philadelphia Eagles of course), but when he’s not carrying on the Ryan traditoin of talking smack at every conceivable opportunity, Rob Ryan is hard at work installing new packages and wrinkles to the Cowboys’ defense.
The Cowboys finished the 2010 season 26th in passing yards allowed (3894), 29th in both yards per passing attempt (7.7) and QB rating (92.8) allowed. The Cowboys tried to secure an instant upgrade at CB during free agency by making a play for Nnamdi Asomugh. They of course came up empty handed in the sweepstakes and began training camp with Terrance Newman, Orlando Scandrick and Malcolm Jenkins as the top trio on the depth chart. Newman suffered a groin injury on Wednesday though, and is expected to miss the rest of training camp and likely all of the preseason schedule.
That’s not necessarily the worst news in the world in a normal year, but there is very little that is ‘normal’ about the 2011 NFL season so far. Lockout and shortened preparation time aside, the Cowboys are also learning the ins and outs of first year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. The long haired brother of Rex shares a similar philosophy to Wade Phillips, but obviously there are numerous differences in the terminology and packages between the two aggressive defensive minds. Newman is a veteran though and will be just fine provided he recovers fully from a physical standpoint.
Jerry Jones certainly doesn’t sound concerned about Newman, nor does he feel like the Cowboys needed to sign Asomugha in order to make significant improvements defending the pass. When asked by Randy Galloway Thursday if he felt the Cowboys had enough talent and depth on their roster to contend, Jones had this to say:
"Yes I do, yes. We wouldn’t be signing these one-year agreements on these safeties if we weren’t trying to do something this year seriously. So I do think it can. I think what we’re going to do with our secondary will be a little more friendly to Scandrick, it will be a little more friendly to Newman when he gets back out there. By the way, Scandrick is probably having at corner the best camp of all. There’s a fresh look. Rob [Ryan] gives them a fresh look when he sees things that he hasn’t seen because he’s just gotten here. Jenkins is showing some things; he’s going to play Jenkins in a way that’s going to give him a more positive approach to how he plays the game. But all of these things will be a positive for us."
Cowboys fans have to be thrilled to hear that Scandrick has looked so good. The former fifth round pick out of Boise State has shown promise during his first three NFL seasons, but for understandable reasons wasn’t quite entrusted to be one of the team’s top two starters. Expect that to change this year though. As for Malcolm Jenkins, an ’09 first rounder, sounds like Ryan has some interesting new ways to deploy him.
When asked about Ryan and his stle, Jones said:
"I did. I visited with Mike Holmgren at length about Rob before Jason hired him, and he was talking about said ‘you’ve got to watch him on third down, third and long he’ll get a little out there one; and two, he’ll upstage your coach, the media gravitates towards him like bees to honey. So all of those things, and I’m not smiling when I say this, those are not negatives. And there’s never been a coach that’s aggressive that’s had some third and longs that he’d like to take back."
Jones elaborated on why Ryan has already had a positive influence on the atmosphere at camp when asked about just how different of a personality Ryan has compared to head coach Jason Garrett:
"Well I know this, I don’t want to get in a battle of wits with Jason Garrett, you will come out a little scathed. So I would have loved to be a part of that. But he has such respect for him — Jason does for Rob as a coach. And frankly you’ve to appreciate Rob’s style with the players. He just has that timing that you have when you can communicate with people effectively. He does it well, does it with a lot of humor, it impacts the offense as well. I was talking with Jason Witten the other day, he said was right over there on the sideline and Rob caught a pass on a linebacker, and Rob proceeded to call Jason a very colorful name. And Jason just had to smile as he was going to back to the huddle. It’s infectious. It’s good stuff."
I, for one, am interested to see how that mainfests itself on Sundays, particularly early in the season when offenses are potentially still trying to iron out the kinks in their execution.
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