With all the talk about the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim, coaching next week in Super Bowl XLVII and the first family of the NFL in the Mannings, most fans often lose sight of the yet another family strong with the NFL force.
The Ryan Family.
The patriarch of the Clan Ryan is none other than Buddy Ryan of the famed 1985 Chicago Bears 46 defense. We know the younger Ryans well. Rex Ryan is the current head coach of the New York Jets and Rob Ryan was just recently let go from his defensive coordinator position with the Dallas Cowboys. But less known to most is Buddy Ryan’s oldest son, Jim Ryan.
KSDK’s Frank Cusumano sat down in an exclusive interview with the eldest brother who also happens to be a St. Louis area resident.
Here are some notes from that interview.
Despite the obvious personality traits and the whole 3-4 versus 4-3 scheme differences Jim Ryan has no doubt that his brother Rob is a great fit to be a St. Louis Ram.
I think it’s a fantastic fit because he runs an aggressive philosophy. His defense fits the personality of defensive players. They like to be aggressive, they like to seek and destroy. Defensive players generally are not “bend but don’t break” philosophy guys. Nobody ever encompasses that.
After frustratingly watching the corners back off of receivers and giving them 5-8 yard cushions the idea of seek and destroy will make a welcomed return with Rob Ryan at the helm. Can we safely throw out the “bend but don’t break” ideologies out with Blake Williams?
Jim Ryan goes on to say,
I know Rob is excited because he’s got two really good pass rushers, which really helps you play defense at that point.
Two Degrees Of NFL Separation
I know he’s excited to be here. Obviously they’ve known each other, Jeff Fisher and Rob, since Rob was a ball boy in the 80’s and Jeff was a player.
Like most things in life sometimes all comes down to who you know. This is especially true of the hardest boys club doors to get one’s foot into. It also helps having a father already in the coaching society. But just in case you don’t know the history between the Ryans and Jeff Fisher, Jim Ryan recaps it here.
Jeff was a defensive back on the Bears. He was a part of that ’85 Bears team and then when he retired my father, Buddy, knew he’d be a great coach. He got his start in coaching with Buddy in Philadelphia. He also went to Houston when Buddy was there. Buddy, my dad, really liked Bud Adams the owner of Houston. I thought it was interesting that once a change was made in Houston after Buddy had left to go to Arizona, when they changed head coaches they did not take the offensive guy they took Jeff Fisher. He was there for seventeen years.
Don’t Box Rob In
So going back to the difference in defensive philosophies, Jim Ryan pretty much says it’s all hogwash.
Sure, but your defense is based on your personnel. And if you’re personnel is better for a 4-3 then that’s what you run if you’re a good coach. People like to pigeonhole things so they’ll say, “Gee. You can only run a 3-4.” But that’s not the way it is. If you’re a coach you know the game and you put out a defense that reflects the best that your players can bring.
In terms of Rob being flexible enough to do that Rob’s first job in at Tennessee State was coaching running backs. You do what it takes to get a job. A good coach knows all facets of the game. Will you see some 3-4? Sure. But I think the fans here are going to really like the aggressiveness whether it’s in a 3-4 or 4-3 package.
A Chip Off The Old Buddy
Now I found this part of the interview oh so entertaining. Jim drops some family history and gives us some insight on Rob’s personality as Cusumano referred to Rob Ryan as having a “professional wrestler façade.”
He does. In fact the last time I saw him I said, “Oh I know what to get you for Christmas. I’m going to get you a bathrobe and some sunglasses because you’re the dude from ‘The Big Lebowski.’”
He is much more like my father than Rex is. As much as the media likes to portray Rex as being out there that’s really more a product of New York media.
Rex tends to be a little more politically correct. Rob is the kind of guy that if you ask him a question you will get a direct answer very similar to my father that may not be the most politically correct one.
It’s interesting that way he has always been a very confident guy and I think players will relate to that, too.
Okay, let’s be honest. I never thought Rex would be the more politically correct one of the twins. Then again I haven’t listened in on any Cowboys’ press conferences. Maybe Rob’s demeanor shines through there.
I do have a good idea of what Buddy was like though. Papa Ryan didn’t mess around and told things to you straight. I could go on to say Buddy walked that fine line between being confident and arrogant. Sometimes his confidence served him well, and sometimes his arrogance well did him a disservice. What you see is what you get with Buddy and it sounds like Rob is a lot like his father.
Growing Up With Rex And Rob
They were tight. If you messed with one, you messed with both. They got in trouble but it was more those two on whomever else.
We used to have football games in the back yard where it’d be me against the both of them. I’d throw passes to myself. I was six years older so for quite a while I had them beat. What I would do is smack of them and he’d be kind of hurting and I could take advantage. Then I would hit one and he’d hit me and ran me over then Rob would step on my head laughing and went over for the touchdown. Basically that’s how the one-on-two games ended.
Watch And Learn
Growing up a coach’s kid has its advantages. Were those two looking at tape with Buddy as kids? The short answer from Jim Ryan was, “Yes.” It was similar to what Papa Ryan did in college when he watched his coaches at Oklahoma State and watched the way he related to players.
And they were ball boys that really paying attention, too. They weren’t just picking up the wet towels and all that. They really watched. Rex and Rob did the same thing. They learned a lot before they ever got out of college in terms of how you manage a professional player.
Cusumano said, “Rob wanting this thing in St. Louis so badly. You told me there was some other things he could have looked at but he wasn’t interested. This is what he wanted.”
Absolutely. You’ve got a bonafide tremendous coach that he agrees with his philosophy and they’ve know each other so there’s a comfort level there. And he’s got talent in here. Which is something Rob really hasn’t been blessed with in his career.
This Dallas team was a top-5 team until they had nine injuries. Then they started having to play players that literally didn’t even have jobs even on a practice squad. They weren’t just getting signed they were playing. So the defense slipped at that point.
Now that sounds eerily familiar to Rams fans. Steve Spagnuolo went through the same thing during his tumultuous tenure here in St. Louis. The Rams had cornerbacks landing on injured reserved as soon as the next one was brought on off the streets.
For what it’s worth, Dallas ended up finishing the 2012-2013 season ranked 19th in total defense with 5,687 yards. The Rams were 14th giving up 5,482 yards. League bottom went to Spags and the Saints with 7,042 yards. 31st place was the Giants with 6,134 yards.
If the Rams stay healthy they’ve got a top-10 defense. I don’t think there’s much doubt about that. It starts with those great pass rushers and pretty strong in the interior.
Is He A Ram Yet?
Nope. So far no official announcement of Rob Ryan’s hire has come down from Rams Park. But it sounds like Rene Knott was able to get a few words out of Rob Ryan as they both took in a St. Louis Blues game Sunday night.
It’s been over a year since the Rams officially had a defensive coordinator since Ken Flajole’s exit. I have to hand it to Kevin Demoff, Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. They are taking their time to find who they believe is the right man for the job.
What do you think of the hire? Do you think The Big Robowski is the right dude for the Rams’ defense?