MOBILE, Ala. -- Jerry Jones wanted to stress the importance of hiring an experienced defensive coordinator during a 25 minute chat with reporters on Monday.
When Rob Ryan was hired, the Cowboys hired a man who's been a defensive coordinator in Oakland and Cleveland and while he didn't have the same amount of talent in those places as he would with the Cowboys, it's clear this was a good hire.
"He's great," Jones said of Ryan, who attended Senior Bowl practices with the rest of the coaches on Monday. "He's outstanding with his demeanor around football. I think it's a positive for players and I think it's a positive for the people on his staff and around the team. Just his personality, his demeanor and the fact he literally has grown up around football and spent a lot of time around pro football, all of that is very positive."
Ryan is the son of Buddy Ryan who taunted the Cowboys with verbal jousts when he coached the Philadelphia Eagles. How Ryan fixes the defense remains to be seen. Jones said there will be changes in how the defense operates, especially in the secondary, however there is enough talent on this team to make things work.
The Cowboys have two Pro Bowl players, DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff, returning and have two corners who reached the Pro Bowl in the past, Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins, in addition to a young inside linebacker in 2010 second-round pick Sean Lee. There are three defensive linemen who could become unrestricted free agents in Stephen Bowen, Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher and strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh is also on verge of unrestricted free agency depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement is structured.
Pass rush and the inability to play consistency in the secondary were the issues. The Cowboys allowed a franchise record 436 points in 2010 and were tied for first with 33 touchdown passes allowed.
"I think you're dealing with experience," Jones said of Rob Ryan. "I'd underline the word experienced defensive coordinator. We wanted to go in that direction. One who had spent several years coordinating. You say well, 'Didn't you have that in Wade [Phillips]?' We did have an experienced defensive coordinator in Wade. Rob will approach things a little different as every coach does and he will approach how he manages and works with both players and his staff that will be done differently."
Phillips has a laid back and while the players liked and respected him, it didn't seem they were held to a high standard of accountability.
Ryan is different.
He's a high energy guy who makes his players accountable and mixes up his 3-4 scheme that forces players to be around the ball.