Take, for example, his answer when asked how often he’d mentioned his beef with the Browns to the Dallas defense this week.
“Honestly, I’m going to say none. Honestly. Honestly,” Ryan said. “Honestly, I’m going to say no. Honestly, I haven’t talked about it. Honestly, I don’t know how that got out there. Honestly, I don’t know.”
How about his dishonest answer?
“I’ve addressed a few things,” Ryan deadpanned.
Yes, this one is personal to Ryan. He declared that while the rest of the Cowboys were still celebrating last week’s win over the Eagles.
The Browns fired Ryan along with head coach Eric Mangini a couple of years ago. While Ryan has fondness for several players on the Browns’ roster, he’s bitter toward the franchise.
“Absolutely. I spent a lot of time in those offices, too,” Ryan said. “In fact, I slept in them for seven straight weeks when I said, ‘Hey, I’m not going home until we win a game.’ I’ll never say that again. ...
“Any time you pour everything you have into it and apparently management didn’t see it as if it was good enough, of course it’s personal.”
Ryan has made that clear to his players this week, but that’s far from their primary reason for motivation. If a 4-5 record doesn’t get the Cowboys focused, they’re in trouble anyway.
“It’s personal for him,” defensive end Jason Hatcher said. “But every game is personal because we need this win.”
Added inside linebacker Bruce Carter: “We don’t want to make it too personal and get out of our game.”
The Browns went 5-11 in 2009 and 2010, Ryan’s two seasons as Cleveland’s defensive coordinator. His bitterness stems from his belief that Mangini didn’t get a fair chance to finish a rebuilding job, not that the Browns didn’t consider Ryan as a head coach.
“Eric is a good friend of mine,” Ryan said. “He hired me to do a job. Hell, I did it and got everybody fired anyway. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t in charge of that decision. But I plan on doing something about it.”