Search begins for Rob Ryan's replacement

Search begins for Rob Ryan's replacement

Published Jan. 8, 2013 9:38 p.m. ET

IRVING, Texas-- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones pledged there would be "uncomfortable" change at Valley Ranch in the wake of another 8-8 season. The dismissal of high-profile defensive coordinator Rob Ryan certainly qualifies.

"I want to express my appreciation to Rob for all of his efforts and contributions to the Cowboys over the past two years," said head coach Jason Garrett. "At this time, the decision has been made to move forward in a different direction philosophically on defense. I have an immense amount of respect for Rob as a person and as a football coach and I wish him and his family the very best."

It's the second firing in two days following the release of running backs coach Skip Peete on Monday. More changes could come on the offensive side of the ball but immediately, the Ryan firing will likely mean some members of the defensive staff who are Ryan's "guys" might also be let go. Additionally, Garrett -- who personally informed Ryan of the move while the defensive coordinator was vacationing -- saying that the club will "move forward in a different direction philosophically on defense" suggests a possible alteration in Dallas' base 3-4 defense.

Ryan oversaw a defense that in some eyes overcame a devastating number of injuries. The club's numbers landed Dallas at No. 19 overall in yards allowed and No. 24 overall in points allowed in the NFL but seemed capable of much more before season-ending injuries to standouts like Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Barry Church and Jay Ratliff.

The always-colorful Ryan told the Dallas Morning News, "I have no sour grapes. I know I did a hell of a job. I will find another spot."

The Cowboys likely already have a listen of Ryan replacements in mind. Depending on their situations elsewhere (and on the club's 4-3 vs. 3-4 decision) that list might include names like Lovie Smith and Ray Horton (who are interviewing to be head coaches this week), Romeo Crennel, Dave Wannstedt, Mike Singletary, Eric Mangini and Monte Kiffin.