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Reports: Cowboys Hire Rob Ryan To Fix Defense

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The Cowboys have been on the lookout for a new defensive coordinator since their season ended two weeks ago, but the right fit didn't quite seem to be there.That changed Thursday, as the Browns hired Pat Shurmer as their new head coach, and word leaked out that he would not be bringing back Rob Ryan to run his defense. 

The Cowboys were reported to immediately be hot on his trail, and this morning Michael Lombardi reports that Ryan has been offered the job and has agreed to join the Cowboys. No official announcement has been made, and it is not known whether the club will schedule a press conference to introduce their new coordinator.

Ryan coached the Raiders defense for five years and has run Cleveland's for the past two. That unit is thought to lack talent, making Ryan's mediocre rankings appear more impressive. The defensive unit in Dallas has some top players, such as pro bowlers Demarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff, but Ryan will have some issues to sort out.

Three of the top four defensive ends will likely be free agents, and the other, Igor Olshansky, regressed in his second year in Dallas. Jay Ratliff is an undersized nose tackle, a type of player that Wade Phillips has had success with in his 3-4, but something that most other coordinators don't prefer. Anthony Spencer is a big question mark, after following his promising 2009 season with a very disappointing 2010. And then there's the secondary, where there could be as many as three new starters.

Ryan's family is the source of much controversy, particularly in Dallas. Rob's twin brother Rex is the most outspoken, controversial coach in the league, and his father Buddy was responsible for the infamous "bounty bowl" in Troy Aikman's first season, where the then coach of the Eagles was rumored to have placed bounties on Aikman and the Cowboys' kicker, Luis Zendejas, who had just left the Eagles.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.