Moore: Why Ryan-Garrett pairing not really an ‘Odd Couple’ remake


Moore: Why Ryan-Garrett pairing not really an ‘Odd Couple’ remake
Column by DAVID MOORE / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – – By the time Jason Garrett got in his car and pulled out of the parking lot Friday evening, the Cowboys were already negotiating with Rob Ryan to become their defensive coordinator.

The Princeton-educated head coach and the sometimes-coarse son of Buddy Ryan is an odd pairing on the surface. Southwestern Oklahoma State University, where Rob went to school, is a fine institution, but it’s not Ivy League.

Neither is Ryan’s language. He is prone to four-letter words while Garrett leans toward those with four syllables.

So what? Garrett’s goal is not to assemble – – wait for this four-syllable bomb – – a homogenous staff. It’s to assemble a group of assistants who are good at what they do and can communicate to the players what needs to be done.

Garrett demands emotion, passion and enthusiasm from his players. Why would he want anything less from his assistants?

Ryan brings that to the table. He also brings seven years of NFL experience as a defensive coordinator. This is crucial.

Owner Jerry Jones can gush about Garrett’s leadership abilities all he wants. He can invoke Tom Landry’s name in hope of what lies ahead. But these are the facts:

Garrett has only eight games of experience as a head coach at any level. He can’t afford to turn the defense over to a coordinator with credentials just as thin.

That’s why Miami’s Todd Bowles, who interviewed for the head coaching vacancy with Jones, was never a serious candidate for the defensive coordinator’s job. He’s a very good secondary coach but has never called a defense.

The same goes for Pittsburgh’s Ray Horton. He’s built a solid reputation but has never been a coordinator in his 17 years as an NFL assistant.

Evidence suggests Garrett will be a successful head coach. Still, his hire represents a leap of faith. A Cowboys team coming off its most disappointing season is in no position to take the same approach at defensive coordinator.

Garrett knows this. It’s also interesting to note the profile of the four men who received strong consideration for this position.

Paul Pasqualoni was the interim defensive coordinator put in place by Garrett when he took over for Wade Phillips . Vic Fangio interviewed for the job Monday. Greg Manusky followed Wednesday, and Ryan came along Friday.

What do these four candidates have in common?

All have been defensive coordinators in the NFL. All are grounded in the 3-4 scheme the Cowboys have used the last six seasons.

And none has been a head coach in the NFL.

Was this a calculated move on Garrett’s part? It’s impossible to say for sure. If this was the plan, it doesn’t benefit Garrett to acknowledge it publicly.

But it makes sense. A first-time head coach doesn’t need his authority undercut by a coordinator who has more experience than he does.

Ryan has been a defensive assistant in the NFL for 12 seasons. The last seven have been spent as a coordinator. He may have aspirations to be a head coach one day, but for the moment he’s comfortable concentrating on defense.

He’s no threat, real or imagined, to Garrett and the culture the new coach will establish.

The bold, free-spirit persona associated with Rob, his twin brother Rex and father Buddy is justified. But Rob Ryan worked for New England’s Bill Belichick and for Cleveland’s Eric Mangini. He can work for Garrett.

It’s not the odd couple you might think. The Garrett-Ryan pairing makes perfect sense at this stage of their careers.

And for those times when Ryan longs to share a good-natured, four-letter exchange with someone on the staff, there is always special teams coach Joe DeCamillis.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

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