Rob Ryan won't back off talk

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan acknowledged that his not-so-subtle "all-hype team" jab at the Philadelphia Eagles wasn't a wise off-the-cuff comment.

However, Ryan isn't quite worried about the bulletin-board material he provided this summer as the Cowboys prepare to visit their NFC East rivals Sunday night.

"If they need my motivation to get ready to play us, then we're gonna kick their ass anyway," Ryan said Friday. "It ain't going to matter."

With tongue planted in cheek, Ryan accused the media of provoking the original comment that went viral during training camp, days after the Eagles completed their offseason shopping spree by outbidding the Cowboys for perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

It was actually in response to an innocuous question about the first day of practice for defensive ends Marcus Spears, Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher, who signed with the Cowboys in free agency. Ryan praised the defensive ends as "bullies" and then fired a thinly veiled shot at the Eagles.

"I don't know if we win the all-hype team," Ryan said on that early August afternoon. "That might have gone to someone else, but we're going to beat their ass when we play them."

When asked a follow-up question about who the all-hype team was, Ryan muttered, "I don't know," and quickly excused himself from the pack of reporters. He acknowledged the obvious Friday: The jab was intended for the Eagles.

"I'm an emotional guy. Who are we kidding?" said Ryan, the twin brother of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and son of former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan, both of whom are also known for their brashness. "I'm not some guy [who] just can handle coach speak and be boring. I'm going to be emotional at times, and unfortunately that was one of my times, and I found out everybody listens in this town, which is good, unlike Cleveland. So I got in a little trouble there."

It's been a hot topic all week with the 3-3 Cowboys facing the 2-4 Eagles, who were heavy preseason favorites to defend their division title but are the NFC East's lone team with a losing record.

Philadelphia receiver DeSean Jackson, in particular, took offense to the comments.

"For a coach to really say that, it's hard for me to kind of respect that because the coach is not really out there playing," Jackson told Philadelphia reporters. "If his players said that, then I could understand that. We're out there on the field with him so I would be able to get a chance to get a shot at that player if he said something crazy.

"But for a coach, it ain't like I can run on the sideline and tackle the coach."

Ryan admitted that Jackson made a pretty good point and that assistant coaches in general "should shut up all the time." In the next breath, however, Ryan said he earned the right to have an opinion by working 19-hour days.
And Ryan, who tips the scales in the 300-pound range, welcomed the 175-pound Jackson to tackle him.

"Hell, he doesn't have to worry about tackling me," Ryan said, laughing. "If he does, he can tackle me. That'd be great, because I'm going to land on his shoulder and put him out. So that'll be awesome. Hell, he can tackle me two or three times."

Ryan said he has a lot of respect for Eagles coach Andy Reid and the talent of the Philadelphia offense, which is why he called his all-hype comments "unfortunate."

The point Ryan was trying to make at the time is that he has great confidence in the Cowboys' defense. His players have proven him right so far, as the Cowboys rank fifth in the NFL and first in the NFC in total defense.

"I'm not scared of what I believe in, and what I believe in is our defense," Ryan said. "I can't wait to get after these guys. It's going to be great. Hell, let's go get it on."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.