Bernie Bytes: No Ryan? No Problem
Bernie Bytes: No Ryan? No problem
1 hour ago • BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
NEW ORLEANS — Super Bowl Media Day was buzzing over the news that Rob Ryan won't be joining the Rams as defensive coordinator, after all.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher takes his time in hiring coaches. He's about as deliberate in his approach to the process as anything I have seen in the NFL. And I think that's positive. What's the rush? Why risk making a mistake? The important thing is to get it right, and make sure the assistant coach or coordinator will be a good fit, make a difference and contribute for a long time.
Fisher obviously did a lot of homework and preparation before making the final decision on Ryan. Just when it appeared that Ryan was all set to take over at defensive coordinator -- something the Rams didn't shoot down over the weekend -- Fisher pivoted and moved in another direction.
And that's OK for several reasons.
No. 1, as we said, get it right. Fisher has a history of putting together a cohesive staff and knows how important it can be to the workplace. Morale is important. Working together as a team is important. Fisher fired linebackers coach Blake Williams because the young coach (age 34) didn't play well with others. If Fisher and associates had any doubts about Ryan, any reason to pause, then it makes no sense to move forward.
No. 2, while it's true that Ryan ran a 4-3 defense for several years in Oakland, he has been a 3-4 guy in Cleveland (two years) and Dallas (two years). If Ryan had misgivings about running a 4-3, then this was a non-starter.
The Rams have 4-3 personnel. They would struggle to fill a 3-4 alignment with suitable talent. And why mess with a good thing? The Rams made real progress on defense in 2012, finishing tied for the league lead with 52 sacks. Ryan's defense in Dallas was an underachiever. You don't tear this apart, not when the defense has such obvious promise to become an elite unit.
And the dumbest thing Fisher could have done was realign his defense to accommodate Ryan. Fisher's defenses have been considerably better than Ryan's, so this is pretty silly. Did Ryan really think Fisher was supposed to junk his defensive philosophies to appease him?
No. 3, as I have discussed frequently, Ryan's defenses have historically underperformed. I was willing to look past that because I assumed Ryan would come here motivated to learn from Fisher, benefit from a more stable environment, and work on improving as a coach.
It wasn't meant to be. I believe Fisher could have been a terrific influence on Ryan, who has potential to be very good. But if Ryan wasn't sold on doing things Fisher's way, then that's his problem, and it explains why his rep has been taking a hit.
The only thing that puzzles me about this situation was how it got this far. If there's a problem with "fit," this couldn't have been anything new. Fisher had to know from the beginning that there were issues. So why waste time?
Here is what I know: the Rams and Ryan were prepared to move forward with this coaching relationship, but when Ryan and the staff had additional discussions about approach and philosophy, there were differences of opinion that couldn't be bridged. And perhaps those differences revealed a potential personality conflict.
So Fisher avoided a potential disaster by deciding to move on and begin a new search. Hiring a new defensive coordinator will require more time, and yeah, maybe Fisher should have moved on from Ryan sooner. But I still see this as a net plus, because I've watched too many head coaches settling for hires they didn't really want to make.
Fisher knows what he wants.
He also knows what he doesn't want.
Thanks for reading.