Rams’ fans across the world heard the false speculations of Rob Ryan hired as the team’s new defensive coordinator weeks ago, but those rumors are now true as Adam Schefter has reported that Ryan and the Rams have reached an agreement. Ryan showcased his brass personality saying he’d be out of work “in five minutes” after he was fired by the Dallas Cowboys. It took a little longer than five minutes, but Ryan has landed on a team with cornerstones at key positions on defense.
It’s easy to judge Ryan by the numbers and automatically disqualify him. The Cowboys finished 19th in total defense, 25th in points allowed, tied for 18th in red zone defense, and 23rd in third-down defense this past season. This resulted in the 19th-ranked total defense in the NFL. The most alarming stat was the Cowboys franchise worst 5,687 yards allowed.
It’s true that numbers never lie, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Four defensive starters fell to the wayside due to to season-ending injuries, Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff was limited to only six games because of a nagging foot injury and a sports hernia. Not to mention the disruptive pass rusher DeMarcus Ware was played through a shoulder, elbow, and hamstring injuries. In the first half of the season, the Cowboys ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense, allowing 312.5 yards per game. In the final eight games, the average jumped to 398.3 yards a game.
Scheme wise, it is widely known that Ryan conducts his defense out of the 3-4 alignment (the Rams run a 4-3), but this is Jeff Fisher’s team and Fisher’s defensive unit. Fisher is very hands-on with his defense and will still have a heavy influence on the game plan. As strong of a personality Fisher is in his own right, he and Ryan will be on the same page defensively. Ryan is boastful, but he will have no issue succumbing to Fisher’s plans. In Ryan’s time in Oakland, he did run a 4-3 scheme.
It is also important to mention that Fisher and Ryan family have ties with each other. Rex and Rob were ball boys when Fisher worked under their father Buddy in Chicago.
Rob Ryan brings instant excitement and attention to the Rams sideline. Brian Schottenheimer was seen as a controversial hire considering the scrutiny he was under during his time with the Jets. St. Louis’ offense still struggled at times, but they still improved. Ryan has the tools to have a greater impact on the team as he inherits stars like Chris Long, Robert Quinn, James Laurinaitis and Cortland Finnegan. And let’s not forget Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins, who both received rookie honors. His departure from Dallas will also fuel him to prove naysayers wrong.
If the Rams can address the safety position alongside Quintin Mikell and give Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar help on the outside, Ryan can escalate a top-15 defense, which was tied for 1st in the league in sacks with 52 this season, to the top-10 or perhaps top-5 in total defense.