Now that Dan Quinn is in Washington, the Dallas Cowboys have an important opening to fill at defensive coordinator. There are a few qualified candidates out there without an NFL gig, but one of the most intriguing (for many reasons) is current ESPN analyst, Rex Ryan. After several years on television, Ryan is meeting with Jerry Jones, and if hired this marriage will either yield great results for current coach Mike McCarthy or it will spell the end of him in Big D.
“You know I like toes. I don’t like this toe.” – Rex Ryan
Figured we’d go ahead and get the toe joke out of the way because there will be plenty of them while Ryan’s name is trending next to the Cowboys. If he gets hired, that’s what we’re in for any time Dallas is involved in a similar play to the clip above. But beyond having fun with ‘sexy Rexy’ about his foot fetish, he’s an interesting personality in general. He was also a damn good defensive play caller in his heyday, which was over a decade ago.
Many will (and currently are) laugh this off as a bogus attempt by Jones of reeling in another retread, but Ryan is a much more exciting option than the other name we’ve heard. That would be former Minnesota Vikings head coach and one-time Cowboys defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer. He was around during some of those lean years in the early 2000s.
Neither may be the correct answer, but if forced to choose between the two, most would probably go with Ryan. You really have to forget about his time as head coach in Buffalo and his last few years in New York leading the Jets nowhere. He got off to a fast start with the Jets after a nice run as DC in Baltimore, but couldn’t sustain that momentum. Ryan’s tenure started with back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances and from there, the bottom quickly fell out.
While it’s just an interview with the Jones family, you must consider that Ryan could certainly be hired. What makes this situation truly unique is the status of McCarthy, who’s heading into the last year of his contract with the Cowboys. There are no guarantees, but it’s hard to see Ryan sliding into that spot if McCarthy is kicked to the curb. After those first two years in New York, the next six between the Jets and Bills were a calamity.
Since then, the mere mention of Ryan as a head-coaching candidate has produced pure unadulterated laughter vibrating through many a microphone outside of ESPN studios. He’s wanted to get back on the sideline for years and has been “in the running” in recent years, falling short each time. You must wonder, at this point, if he’s a serious candidate for many teams.
It feels like a hire the Cowboys would make in bringing in former rival Buddy Ryan’s son, but it also seems like a decision McCarthy might not be too fond of without safety net. Rex is a players coach. That doesn’t mean McCarthy’s current and former players don’t love him, but Ryan is different. He has that eccentric, let it all hang out attitude that attracts many players. If the offense struggled for some reason and the defense continued to flourish under Ryan, that would be tough for McCarthy to overcome.
The same way we heard talk and rumors the past two years about Quinn replacing McCarthy, the same would begin with Ryan, although this time there’d be nothing stopping Jones from making a brash decision on the fly. But again, the whole idea of Ryan as a head coach (again) is one most people would pass on. So, Jones hiring one of Buddy’s twin boys is a bit of a conundrum.
With that said, if Jones does the deal, it’s either going to be one of the keys to further success for McCarthy in Dallas in finally getting over the hump or it’s going to end horribly as the ‘Boys crash and burn next season. Either way, bringing in Ryan over Zimmer, or pretty much any other candidate at this point, will be the most entertaining outcome for anyone who loves [real] reality television.