ST. LOUIS — Well so much for the Rams and coach Jeff Fisher having a defensive coordinator that hasn’t been in the news lately.
A year after the Rams hired well known and respected defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — only to have him never coach a game due to a suspension stemming from the bounty gate scandal — they hired another character to replace him.
The Rams hired former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to fill the same position. Ryan, the brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan, is known for his out-going and outspoken personality and hard, aggressive style of defense.
Ryan spent two seasons with the Cowboys, leading a defensive unit that dealt with several key injuries in 2012 to a No. 19 overall ranking including 17th against the run and 21st against the pass.
Never shy to offer up an opinion, Ryan told ESPNDallas.com shortly after he was fired that, “I inherited a team that was 31st in the league in defense and made them better. I (expletive) made them a hell of a lot better. I’ll be out of work for like five minutes.”
The Ryan-Fisher combination is an interesting one. Ryan’s father Buddy Ryan was the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears when Fisher played for them from 1981-85. Ryan left to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Fisher later coached there under him.
But did Fisher just hire an old family friend or does he think Ryan is the right guy to lead the Rams defense? No Rob Ryan-led defense has made the playoffs. He served as the Raiders defensive coordinator from 2004-08 and the Browns DC from 2009-10 before his two-year stint in Dallas.
Ryan apologists will argue that he’s actually a good coach but has never had the opportunity to work with talented players. He’s inherited some of the worst defenses in the league in each of his three previous stops.
The Rams meanwhile had an impressive and much-improved defense in 2012, helping them stay in a number of games they didn’t deserve to be in. Despite not having a defensive coordinator, the Rams finished in the middle of the pack (14th) in both yards allowed and points allowed.
But how will Ryan and his 3-4 style of defense work in St. Louis? The Rams are much better suited for a 4-3 defense with ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn serving as perfect pieces for that alignment. Will Ryan try to convert the Rams to a 3-4 group or adapt to their current setup?
Ryan has an impressive history of working with elite pass-rushers including DeMarcus Ware, Chris Clemons and Derrick Burgess. Seeing what he could do with Long and Quinn is nothing short of intriguing and exciting.
Several defensive players including linebacker Bruce Carter, Sterling Moore and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher went to twitter to voice displeasure over Ryan being fired. And that’s notable because despite their lack of success, players obviously liked playing for him. And that bodes well for the Rams.
Ryan’s defenses feature multiple blitzes and continued pressure, a style that could have success in St. Louis. The Rams defense led the NFL in quarterback sacks last year, a number that could go up even higher with Ryan’s aggressive attack.
Fisher and Ryan are two of the more popular personalities in the NFL. Now they are coaching together. How will it end? It figures to be an awesome story to watch.