Blog Entry

Coach Killers, Week 8, Rob Ryan silenced

Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: November 1, 2011 11:54 am
Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Rob Ryan, Dallas defensive coordinator

Just a thought, but maybe Ryan should stop talking. Yes, we know, he's a maverick, he speaks his mind, he wears his heart on his sleeve -- and our favorite: he knows how to motivate his players.

But here's the thing: he's twice flapped his gums this season … and the Cowboys promptly loss. In Week 4, Ryan made some silly comments about the Lions' Calvin Johnson, then got the bright idea not to double-team Johnson on a decisive goal-line play. Predictably, Matthew Stafford threw a jump-ball to Megatron in the end zone. Touchdown. Game over.

It might be in Ryan's best interest to zip it. (Getty Images)
Ryan's remarks leading up to Sunday night's Eagles' game are well documented. So you'd expect that Dallas would show up if for no other reason than to defend their defensive coordinator's honor.

Nope, they couldn't even be bothered to do that. Instead, they were steamrolled by an Eagles team that had lost four of their first six games.  Philly rushed for 239 yards (including LeSean McCoy's 185) and Dallas watched them do it. Good news, though: Ryan takes responsibility for the D's no-show performance.

"The whole thing is I got outcoached by [Andy] Reid and their staff," he said late Sunday night. "I mean, it's ridiculous. I never gave our guys a chance. The whole [expletive] thing was on me. If I gave them any extra motivation, hell, I certainly never backed it up. I gave our guys a lousy plan. We had no chance, and it's all on me."

That's what you want to hear from an assistant coach who views discretion the same way he looks at a salad.

"Andy Reid was reading my mail," Ryan continued. "He kicked my ass. I've just got to go back and work harder. I've got to be smarter than this. That's all it comes down to. …

"Hell, if I don't say anything, then I don't really believe," Ryan said. "Hopefully, it will be the last time it ever happens. But whatever happened, it was all my fault."

It wasn't entirely Ryan's fault. He wasn't out there missing tackles and blowing assignments, but he makes himself an inviting target when he chooses bluster for silence. Rob: some free advice

Arizona offense, defense

The Cardinals are bad and they're showing no signs of getting better. It's one thing to have a poor outing -- it happens to every team every season -- but it's something else entirely to drop $63 million on a franchise quarterback who proves to be something (much, much, much) less than that. And worse: surrounding said quarterback with no offensive line to speak of and a defense that is equally suspect against the run and the pass.

So when the Cards went up 21 points in Baltimore -- thanks largely to their defense -- there was still an impending sense of doom because … well, these are the Cards. There is no lead they can't squander and that proved to be the case against the Ravens. So who was to blame? Where to start…

The secondary was three times called for pass interference, twice in the end zone, and none of the Cards' cornerbacks could stop Anquan Boldin in the second half. The offensive line has a lot to do with Kevin Kolb's erratic play, particularly tackle Levi Brown. You know, the guy Arizona selected with the fifth-overall pick in the 2007 draft ahead of guys like Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis. And unless the Cards can magically find a No. 2 receiver, Larry Fitzgerald is in for a long, frustrating season.

"I'm not stunned," Cardinals linebacker Paris Lenon said after the Ravens outscored them 24-3 in the second half. "It wasn't like they made a miraculous Hail Mary catch. They adjusted their game plan, and they executed, and we have to get better at finishing."

It's diconcerting that Lenon seemed unsurprised by the chain of events that led to the loss. Then again, he's seen the Cards play. Silver lining: head coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn't heard any jeers from disgruntled fans when he ventures out in public.

"Actually … hearing more positive things," he said. "I know there is a group that's very dissatisfied but I still get a lot of positive comments as well."

So there's that. Of course, if things doesn't change, Whisenhunt won't have to worry about what fans think.

New England secondary

It's wholly unfair to blame Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and the two other guys only recognizable to their close family and friends who were thrust into the Pats' secondary Sunday against the Steelers (Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams were their given names). It's almost as if head coach Bill Belichick was more interested in sending the message that no one player is bigger than the team … to spite his team.

Yes, the D stinks, but that's all on Belichick.  (Getty Images)
Last Friday, New England released their most productive cornerback, Leigh Bodden, reportedly because Bodden was unhappy as the team's No. 3 corner. A day later, the team placed rookie CB Ras-I Dowling on injured reserve. That means the Pats' already bottom-of-the-barrel pass defense was now worse. And the Steelers' offense, taking a page from New England's playbook, featured short and intermediate passes for 50 of their 80 snaps and the Pats were helpless to stop them. That led to one long Pittsburgh drive after another, a lopsided time-of-possession differential (40 minutes to 20 minutes), and ultimately, a convincing New England loss.

"You watch that tape and it’s nothing we want to represent us as a defense," Patriots safety James Ihedigbo said. "As a team, we watched that, and everyone had that look on their face, like, 'That isn’t us.' What we put on tape isn’t us. We’ll correct that, and come out next week ready to show how the New England Patriots play defense."

We don't doubt that the Patriots players work hard and are well coached. The problem: Belichick, the general manager, isn't nearly as good at his job as Belichick, the head coach.

Pats fan and Football Outsiders head honcho Aaron Schatz wrote about this Monday.

"The Pats haven't exactly done much with the defensive players they have drafted early. This is the biggest problem with this team. The late-season defensive improvement that was supposed to carry over from last year has disappeared instead, or even gone backwards. The idea was "young talent, will improve." Instead it's "young talent, barely playing." So many of these players never developed -- Terrence Wheatley is gone, Darius Butler is gone, Jonathan Wilhite is gone, Jermaine Cunningham is barely playing, Ron Brace hasn't played much and is still on PUP ... Belichick's defensive drafting has just been terrible the last couple years. Even Devin McCourty is sophomore slumping."

That doesn't mean the Patriots still aren't one of the NFL's best teams, or that they won't be in the playoffs, or that they won't get hot down the stretch. A decade's worth of games suggests those are all distinct possibilities. It's just that some of the shine is off the "In Belichick We Trust" meme after a series of poor drafts have left New England's defense in shambles.

"You had a makeshift secondary back there [against the Steelers] that didn't look like it knew what it was doing," ESPN analyst and former Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Monday. "If they continue to shuffle their starting lineup in the defensive backfield, expect this type of performance."

Washington offense, defense

If nothing else, the Redskins were consistent against the Bills Sunday. Consistently awful, but still. Washington was outplayed and outcoached in every phase and it was reflected in the 23-0 shellacking.

“That’s as bad as I’ve been involved with from an offensive side as an assistant or a head coach,” head coach Mike Shanahan said after the loss. “... To score no points, I don’t think I’ve ever had that since I’ve been a coach — assistant or head coach, college or professionally. So it’s pretty humbling to take that.”

Week 8 Recap
In recent weeks on the podcast, we've talked about how the Skins, despite the fast start, are destined for the NFC East basement. Yes, if the defense plays well, Washington will be in most games. But anyone who thinks that any combination of Rex Grossman and John Beck can lead an NFL team to the playoffs is either delusional or a horrible judge of character. Shanahan's track record suggests it's the former, but his detractors are happy to point out that his two Super Bowls came with John Elway under center in Denver.

Whatever, John Elway ain't walkin' through that door (he's got his own problems). And Sunday in Toronto, the Bills sacked John Beck nine times (you knew this was coming). When asked to explain what happened, Beck was at a loss.

“This is a tricky one to try to give answers for right now, because I kind of don’t have any answers right now,” he said. “I’m trying to figure that out myself.”

The reshuffling along Washington's offensive line obviously has a lot to do with it. And while that's a legitimate excuse, the 'Skins aren't the only team in the league affected by injuries and inconsistent play. The difference between playoff teams and also-rans is less about big-name players as it is about the depth behind them.

Owner Dan Snyder spent his first decade in Washington treating the Redskins like a glorified game of Madden. Plenty of stars and absolutely no depth behind them, and year after year, they'd miss the playoffs by miles. Consolation prize: they were annually crowned the offseason Super Bowl champs.

The takeaway: this is now Shanahan's mess. He's in his second season, he traded for -- and then traded -- Donovan McNabb, he got rid of Albert Haynesworth, and he made the decision to go with Grossman and Beck. But it's not just the offense. The defense stunk, too.

Bills' QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was clinical, completing 21 of 27 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Fred Jackson rushed for 120 yards and had another 74 yards receiving.

“Disappointment, shock, sadness — little bit of everything,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said afterward. “I don’t know what happened out there on that field. Definitely didn’t look like us. They had our jerseys on, but I don’t know.”

Hey, it's Halloween -- maybe they were zombies. Because the 'Skins sure looked like the walking dead Sunday. They're just going to have to find another non-holiday-related excuse the next time it happens.

Denver defense

It would be easy to just type "Tim Tebow" and move on. But the guy has taken more of a beating after Denver's 45-10 loss than he did at any point during the game. And the Lions sacked him six times, harassed him all day, forced fumbles, and added a pick-six for good measure.

But as bad as Tebow was -- and there's no disputing that he was abysmal -- Denver's defense might have been worse. Detroit's first touchdown of the game came on a blown coverage the likes of which has never been seen.

Titus Young redefines what it means to be open.

Titus Young was so wide open on that play that his biggest issues was having too much time to think about catching the pass.

"This week felt more like a reality check," cornerback Andre Goodman said. "Facing a good Detroit Lions team, we could gauge where we are, and right now, we're not a very good team."

Safety Brian Dawkins admitted that miscommunication with Goodman led to Young not having a defender within 30 yards of him.

It was straight downhill from there. Detroit's offense had three more scoring drives in the first half, then hit cruise control in the second half while the defense took care of the rest.

"Our record speaks for itself. I'm not trying to be negative about my team, I'm just speaking the facts," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "If we don't win, and we keep getting blown out, we're not a good football team."

Champ, we got some bad news for you.

"Whatever we think we're doing, we have to do it 100 times better," Elvis Dumervil added.

Better make it 1000 times better. Just to be safe.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.

Since: Aug 14, 2006
Posted on: November 2, 2011 8:57 am


The problem: Belichick, the general manager, isn't nearly as good at his job as Belichick, the head coach.
But but but all the old talent he brings in and makes great players like: Bodden, OchoStinko, Fat Albert, Fred Taylor.... Surely you are mistaken about not being a great GM.....HAHAHAHAHA  suck it pats!

Since: Aug 14, 2006
Posted on: November 2, 2011 8:48 am

Coach Killers, Week 8, Rob Ryan silenced

Another article about the irrelevant NFC Least....

Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:55 pm

Coach Killers, Week 8, Rob Ryan silenced

Memo to Rob Ryan: It's not nice to badmouth your father's former team.

Interesting also that he mentions Andy Reid twice, but not the Eagles' offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg.  (Well, in one of the two references he did manage to say "Reid and his staff . . .", but . . .)

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: November 1, 2011 5:41 pm

Coach Killers, Week 8, Rob Ryan silenced

I know this article is intended to be more hyperbole for effect than factual, but the Cardinals are actually not "equally suspect against the run and the pass" - they're 5th in the league in rushing yards/attempt, and in the top half in yards/game allowed. Passing D is where most of the defensive failures are, both because of no pass rush and young CBs. Pretty soon their starting OLBs and CBs will be 2 rookies and 2 2nd year players, so there's at least a chance of improvement in that regard as they learn.

That being said, the biggest failure of this team was not getting any additional OL help, either in the draft or in FA. The guards and center are ok, but the tackles are terrible at pass blocking, and there's virtually no one there for the future, with only backup journeymen Batiste and Bridges behind them. Cardinals fans better hope for a very high draft pick, not for Luck but for one of the better OTs in the draft. Give Kolb and Wells a decent line, and things could turn around in a hurry. 

Since: Nov 8, 2010
Posted on: November 1, 2011 4:53 pm

Coach Killers, Week 8, Rob Ryan silenced

And all that without ever having a Texans defender within 20 yards of him, mind you. 

Since: Nov 8, 2010
Posted on: November 1, 2011 4:52 pm

Coach Killers, Week 8, Rob Ryan silenced

No, I think the worst case of blown coverage was a couple years ago when Houston not only let Chris Johnson line up at wide receiver uncovered, but let him run and catch a 40 yard pass and take it 70-80 yards for a TD on a fly pattern hahaha

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: November 1, 2011 4:04 pm

Coach Killers, Week 8, Rob Ryan silenced

agreed, Norv should be here, with Philips handing him his papers...

Since: Jan 21, 2007
Posted on: November 1, 2011 3:21 pm

Coach Killers, Week 8, Rob Ryan silenced

What? No Philip Rivers? Philip needs to be on this list again until he gets himself straighten out. The upcoming schedule is brutal for the Chargers and they need Philip to get mentally tough.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or