Super Bowl Media Day: Rob Ryan’s Defense Getting Some Love

Though he has now been hired and fired twice in the last three seasons, his hybrid 3-4 defense was the talk of a select bunch during Tuesday’s Super Bowl media day frenzy.

Stifling opponents like New England and New Orleans this season, and the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, there is a growing excitement in Dallas – Ryan’s new home – as they look to improve their defense over what is already a tough defensive division in the NFL East. The Dallas Morning News used the word “mind-bending” when attempting to describe what other quarterbacks face when a Rob Ryan-led unit lines up on the other side of the ball.

“It’s confusion,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said on Tuesday. “For me, it was chaos. For them, I’m sure it’s organized chaos. If you have players that can play within that system, you’re going to get a great defense.”

In Dallas, Ryan will be given players like DeMarcus Ware (16 sacks, 66 tackles in 2010) and Bradie James (118 tackles, one interception) among his four linebackers.  In Cleveland, the linebacking corps was seemingly in a constant state of flux due to injuries, botched drafts and free agent acquisitions.  Recently-added Scott Fujita (who also succumbed an injury) has been on record saying that he loved playing for Ryan, but the quantitative results did not bode well for the veteran defensive mind.

In his last season with the Browns, Ryan’s defense finished 20th in points allowed per game (20.8) and 22nd in yards allowed (350.1), both improvements over the 2009 season.  Unfortunately, the Browns were still dismal in (26th) in defending the run, allowing 129.4 yards per game on the ground.  Lauded for his “exotic” schemes on third downs that often have defensive linemen standing, if having any defensive linemen at all, the Browns defense was 28th in the NFL on third downs, allowing opponents to obtain first-downs on 43 percent of attempts.

Regardless of his short-comings in Cleveland, Ryan continues to have the support of fans and his peers throughout the NFL.

“He brings a lot of passion to the defense,” said Bruce Arians, longtime defensive coordinator of the Steelers. “The way he coaches and the way his brother [Rex] coaches, I have a great respect for both of them. They’re bright and know what they’re doing.”

Joshua Gunter/Plain Dealer

  • saggy

    i, for one, think Rob Ryan and his defense are overrated.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Mind-bending? Right…

    Can we stop with the hyperbole already? Sports are not that complicated.

    “Holy Cow! I thought that guy was gonna try to tackle me, but then THAT guy over there actually tried to tackle me. How mind-blowing is that!!?!?!?!?!?”


    Get ready to be mediocre on defense again Dallas.

  • NJ

    I’ll agree that his rep is overstated (as is the case for most coaches still coaching), but the guy coached under four different HCs in Oakland. He had zero talent his first year here and clearly improved the defense in year two.

    I’d like to see what he can do with some time with a real team.

  • Chi-ohioan

    “Mind Bending” is pushing it but I’ll take him all day over this bum Jauron


    I always liked Ryan, although I think more for his personality and hair than the defensive performances of his unit.

    Also, not to be nitpicky, but I was thrown off there for a second by the Bruce Arians, Steelers Defensive Coordinator title..should be offensive.

    Also, I’ll be in Dallas this weekend staying with a buddy and hitting up some of the festivities (and freezing my arse off). I saw Colt is the captain for a DirecTV flag football game on Saturday afternoon…hopefully he doesn’t have a Jamal Lewis moment on the sand, and hopefully he picks my buddy and I out in our Browns gear and comes over to us afterwards.

  • Robbie

    Sorry, but I can’t help but laugh at Rothlisberger’s compliments. He barely lost one out of the four games he faced Ryan’s defense. It’s the typical positive non-answer.

    That being said, I will also wonder what could have been had the team had a chance to build another year.

    Man… I am not looking forward to another rebuild. Sucks.

  • JM

    “That being said, I will also wonder what could have been had the team had a chance to build another year.”

    Your Cleveland Browns since 1999 everyone!

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Of course the Steelers had great things to say about Ryan’s defense.

    “Oh man…that Rob Ryan defense is SOOOO tough to figure out. What’s that? He’s not with the Browns anymore? Crap! I loved going up against that mediocre defense! Oh well, I’m sure they’re hire someone else that stinks. Dick Jauron? Yeah…he’ll do just fine.”

  • Tommy

    QB’s around the league say they are challenged and confused by a defense that is loaded with sub par talent to say the least.



    Rob Ryan was the best thing the Browns had going. The only reason I’m not devastated to lose him is because he would’ve left for a HC job after another year anyways.

  • Robbie

    “Rob Ryan was the best thing the Browns had going. The only reason I’m not devastated to lose him is because he would’ve left for a HC job after another year anyways.”

    After the Jets game, I was feeling this was an absolute certainty after this season. The hype surrounding him being Rex’s brother alone would have landed him a head coaching job. Then, the injuries took hold of the situation.

  • Tommy


    That’s the point though. Until the last Steelers game, our D kept us close in every single game even with an utterly decimated front 7. Sure they had trouble getting off the field towards the end, but allowing the subpar talent and injuries to cloud the expertise of Ryan is a huge mistake.

    What I am NOT saying, is that I believe he will be a great head coach some day, because I believe that is a completely different skill set, but as a scheming D Coordinator? Ya, there are very few that are on his level. Especially against today’s brand of QB and offensive schemes.

  • pepe

    Rex Ryan’s defense was by far the best defense the Browns have had since 1999. And he didn’t have any more talent to work with than any of his predecessors. And no, rookies don’t count as talent. Most teams don’t even start rookies.

  • bobby

    Ha! Big Ben had a real hard time figuring out the browns D…. esp. the first play he had last game.

    Lets get real folks, every team has injuries. To say the browns were decimated by injuries is correct, but they are no different then the rest of the league.

    Is Ryan a good coach? yes. Is he a great coach? Not yet. Maybe he makes that jump in Dallas. I love how you mention he probably wouldnt make a good HC also. Have you looked at Jaruon’s career? everyone here ragging on him is doing so because of his HC career. We should know how good DCs dont make good HC all the time. How about seeing what happens on the field before proclaiming we have the worst DC to ever think about coaching in the NFL. But no, its ok to say Jauron is awful, before ever seeing or hearing his plans even.

  • Shamrock

    Ryan = overrated both in Oakland and Cleveland. When his defense needed to make a stop they couldn’t which didn’t help in all of those close games.

  • bobby

    Thank you Shamrock, thats essentially what i was trying to say about him.