Cowboys fire DC Rob Ryan

The Dallas Cowboys informed defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on Tuesday he would not be returning to run the team's defense in 2013-14.

Ryan had one year remaining on a three-year contract.

"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."

Ryan's defense finished 19th overall, 17th against the run and 21st against the pass.

His defense missed five defensive starters due to injuries and two more key backups.

"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."

When the Cowboys' season ended, it appeared Garrett was giving Ryan a vote of confidence for a return in 2013.

"I thought Rob did a really good job," Garrett said. "I stood up here a number of times and said you don't want to talk about injuries and we're not talking about them now but in answering your question I'm going to say that it was a real challenge for (Ryan). If you think about the number of guys we lost on defense, starting, marquee players who are just simply out, and the other guys who are battling through injuries and the challenges he had bringing guys from the practice squad up, from off the street and on our team and literally playing them two days later."

But a few days after Garrett's comments, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones said changes were needed after an 8-8 finish and he was going to make people uncomfortable at Valley Ranch. Jones wouldn't commit to any coach other than Garrett.

On Monday, Jones spoke to the entire coaching staff and running backs coach Skip Peete was told he wouldn't return. Most of the coaching staff left the Dallas area for a brief vacation.

Ryan was on vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands when he was told by phone he wouldn't return.

"I think I did a good job and I think our staff did a good job on defense trying to compete with what we had at the end of the year," Ryan told MacMahon. "But the best job we did was when we were able to coach our starters."

Ryan's best defensive player, outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware played with one arm in the last two games because of injuries to his elbow and shoulder. His starting safety, Gerald Sensabaugh, played with a bad hip.

Turnovers, an area of discussion this season at Valley Ranch, were rare. The Cowboys snagged seven interceptions, tied for the lowest in the league with Kansas City. The Cowboys also recovered nine fumbles.

Ryan mixed and matched his personnel because of injuries. He moved cornerback Brandon Carr to safety in some packages. He had Mike Jenkins playing more slot corner, a spot he never worked at before.

Defensive end Sean Lissemore moved to nose tackle with starter Jay Ratliff (sports hernia surgery) and backup Josh Brent (reserve/non-football illness) out for the season.

The secondary had many new faces, including Eric Frampton, Michael Coe, Charlie Peprah and Sterling Moore, all of whom weren't with the team in training camp.

In the last two months of the season, the Cowboys signed eight defensive players to the active roster.

"Big surprise," Carr said. "This is my first year (in Dallas) and there were already changes."