IRVING, Texas -- Rob Ryan was on the beaches at Turks & Caicos when he got the call he was no longer the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys last January.
Two weeks after the season ended, the assistant coaches were on vacation when Jason Garrett made the call to Ryan once the head coach was able to confer with owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
“Some of those logistics of those decisions can be challenging sometimes because of the timing of them and where everybody is,” Garrett said. "One of things we try to do is everybody understands the nature of the business and you try to handle your business the right way. Sometimes you can’t handle it the way you want to do it because of the timing or other factors. That’s just part of it. Having said it, handling it the right way however you handle it is really important.
“I love Rob Ryan. He is a fantastic person. He is a fantastic coach and has been for a long time. I have the utmost respect for him and what he did for our organization when he was here for a couple of years.”
At the time, Ryan said he was “comfortably numb,” after he got the call from Garrett and predicted he would find a job quickly. It wasn’t that quick, and he actually had two gigs. He took a job with the St. Louis Rams but discovered it wasn’t a fit. Then he got matched up to be the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator under Sean Payton.
Garrett said he and Ryan have talked a couple of times, but not during the season.
“He has transitioned well there,” Garrett said. “He is a great football coach.”
There is no doubt Ryan has noticed the struggles of the Cowboys’ defense without him in their move from the 3-4 to the 4-3 under Monte Kiffin. The Cowboys are 31st in yards allowed per game, just a 10th of a point ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles at 419.2 yards. They are 15th in points per game at 23.2.
The Saints are ninth in yards (333.1) and fifth in points (18.3).
Does Garrett believe Ryan will have some extra motivation this week?
“That’s like playing teams in your division,” Garrett said. “You’re familiar with each other. Who has the advantage? Well, all it means is you’re familiar with each other. You know some of the things that he likes, but he knows some of the things that we’ve done in the past. You act accordingly with that knowledge. Whether that means you continue to do the same thing or you try to use that to your advantage and say, 'OK, he thinks we’re going to do this, so you do that.' Whatever. So you kind of play that chess game in your preparation and certainly during the game.”