“I want to express my appreciation to Rob for all of his efforts and contributions to the Cowboys over the past two years,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said in a statement. “At this time, the decision has been made to move forward in a different direction philosophically on defense. I have an immense amount of respect for Rob as a person and as a football coach, and I wish him and his family the very best.”
The Cowboys defense finished 19th overall, 17th against the run and 21st against the pass under Ryan. But his defense was not at full strength toward the end of the season, as the team made a viable push for the playoffs before losing to the Washington Redskins. Inside linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, nose tackle Jay Ratliff and nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick were all listed on injured reserve by the end of the season.
“I inherited a team that was 31st in the league in defense and made them better,” Ryan told ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon. “I (expletive) made them a hell of a lot better. I’ll be out of work for like five minutes.”
Ryan was the second member of the Cowboys coaching staff to be fired by owner and general manager Jerry Jones. Running backs coach Skip Peete was fired on Monday, a week after Jones promised to make things “uncomfortable” for the organization after finishing the season 8-8.
This is the second time that Ryan has been fired as a defensive coordinator. The Cleveland Browns fired him after his second year with them.
”I enjoyed my time here,” Ryan told The Dallas Morning News. ”I have no hard feelings. But it doesn’t matter if I coach here or not. I will find another spot.”
Ryan’s firing came as a shock to defensive end Jason Hatcher, who took to Twitter to express his gratitude toward Ryan.
”It was a privilege to play under Coach Rob Ryan! One of the greatest,” Hatcher tweeted. ”Sad day. I’m hurting right now.”
Jones and Garrett must come together and find a new running backs coach, but more importantly a defensive coordinator to help them possibly reach the playoffs next season.