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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Did the defense cost Rob Ryan a job?

By Calvin Watkins

We have seen six head coaching vacancies open up, with two, Kansas City hiring Romeo Crennel and Jacksonville picking Mike Mularkey, closing up. There is a chance Indianapolis could become vacant if the owner or new general manager think Jim Caldwell isn't fit to lead the Colts.

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Rob Ryan, the Cowboys defensive coordinator, hasn't been heard from since he walked toward the team bus at MetLife Stadium on New Year's Day.

There was a thought Ryan would get a sniff at a few of these vacant jobs, but so far owner Jerry Jones' phone hasn't rung from another team asking for permission to speak with his defensive coordinator.

Is this a surprise?

Ryan did boast how great this defense would be and took some shots at the Philadelphia Eagles, calling them the all-hype team. It was all meant to boost the confidence of his players, which is the right thing to do, but in the process, the Cowboys defense didn't improve much.

You don't get credit for giving up less than the franchise-record 436 points the Cowboys allowed in 2010. The regression of several key players -- Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick -- and the lack of a consistent pass rush and forcing turnovers were major issues the Cowboys need to address in the offseason.

It appears Newman will not be with us in 2012, and the Cowboys might draft a corner with the 14th pick of the draft, challenging Scandrick and fellow starter Mike Jenkins for playing time.

Anthony Spencer will test the market and could land somewhere else, but the Cowboys need to find someone who can either take pressure off DeMarcus Ware (19 1/2 sacks) or add to it.

The Cowboys did finish plus-4 in the takeaway/giveaway statistic, good for 10th in the NFL. Yet, the Cowboys finished tied for 17th in interceptions with 15.

Ryan's defense needed to perform better and there were too many times when the unit didn't make plays, especially in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys blew five fourth-quarter leads and were shredded by Tom Brady and New England Patriots in losing one game and failed to contain Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions in losing a 24-3 lead.

These defensive issues and the Cowboys' failure to reach the postseason probably hold Ryan back from getting a job. You can talk all you want about his beard and long hair and bold statements, but Ryan is a good coach. Results are what determine, in some cases, who gets these interviews for jobs.

Ryan's defense didn't have enough results and the team he played for struggled down the stretch.

Ryan could still get an interview, but if not, it's not the end of the world. If he gets more of his type of players on the roster in 2012, Ryan most likely will become a hot head coaching candidate.