It took a bit longer than five minutes for him to find a new job, but not too much longer in the grand scheme of things. Three days after he was fired by the Dallas Cowboys, longtime NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan may have been hired by the St. Louis Rams to fill that same position. Brian Costello of the New York Post was the first with the report. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that while Ryan is the Rams’ first choice, a contract is not yet in place.
Ryan was let go by Dallas soon after owner Jerry Jones said that he would make major changed to a team that finished 8-8 for the second straight season, and out of the playoffs for the third consecutive campaign. The brash coach, son of Buddy Ryan and twin brother of Rex Ryan, claimed that he would not be out of work for long.
“I inherited a team that was 31st in the league in defense and made them better,” Ryan told ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon on Tuesday from his vacation spot in the Turks and Caicos Islands. “I [expletive] made them a hell of a lot better. I’ll be out of work for like five minutes. I think I did a good job and I think our staff did a good job on defense trying to compete with what we had at the end of the year. But the best job we did was when we were able to coach our starters.”
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The Cowboys were overwhelmed by injuries on defense in 2012, but Ryan will also inherit arguably a more talented roster in his new locale. The Rams, whose defense was coached by committee after proposed defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely by the league for his role in the New Orleans Saints’ alleged bounty scandal, have two outstanding pass rushers in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, an up-and-coming defensive tackle in 2012 rookie Michael Brockers, one of the league’s best young linebackers in James Laurinaitis, and a secondary with a great deal of potential. In addition, and as a result of the trade that brought Robert Griffin III to the Washington Redskins with the second overall pick. the Rams have a host of high draft picks over the next few seasons.
Ryan’s Dallas defense ranked 23rd in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted metrics in 2012, while the Rams ranked seventh overall in those same stats.
Fisher has a longstanding connection with the Ryan Family — he played for the Chicago Bears from 1981 through 1984 when Buddy Ryan was the team’s defensive coordinator, and started coaching under Ryan in 1985 after he was put on the injured reserve list. Fisher followed Ryan to Philadelphia in 1986, and was Ryan’s defensive backs coach, and then his defensive coordinator there. In 1994, he succeeded Ryan as the Houston Oilers’ defensive coordinator, and became the Oilers’ head coach in November of that season after Jack Pardee was fired. as the Oilers moved from Houston to Tennessee and became the Titans, Fisher stayed in place until 2010.
The Rams have undergone some fairly major shakeups in their personnel offices of late — they recently fired linebackers coach Blake Williams, son of Gregg, who coached the team’s 2012 defense along with assistant head coach Dave McGinnis and secondary coach Chuck Cecil. Despite that coaching churn, the Rams in their first year under head coach Jeff Fisher were able to see serious improvement on that side of the ball.
“The most difficult part of the week is putting the plan together,” Fisher said before the season. “Calling the defense and those kinds of things is not as difficult as putting the plan together and being right and adjusting. We’re more than capable of doing all three of those things.”
Also, Rams general manager les Snead recently relieved assistant director of college scouting John Mancini, and area scouts Drew Casani and Luke Driscoll, of their duties. After a season in which the Rams turned their roster from one of the NFL’s oldest to one of the league’s youngest, Snead and Fisher are now putting new pieces in place.
“I think what will happen, this is year two, year three is when you iron out the wrinkles,” Snead told the team’s official site. “Year one, you come in and uh oh, it’s make decisions. Year two, roll out your way of doing things but still making decisions. Year three, iron out the wrinkles, really refine it and still make decisions. But the key in those three stages is still making the right decisions.”
With more talent than the franchise has had in several seasons, and a new set of sheriffs in town, the Rams may be on the verge of being truly competitive again.
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