Breakfast with Rob Ryan
Walking through the hallways at Valley Ranch, you never know who you are going to run into. On my trip to the other side of the building this morning, the defensive coordinator was coming in my direction with a bowl of Raisin Bran in hand. I gave him my congratulations but forgot to tell him I gave him a game ball for his effort.
I asked him how he was able to really hold things together defensively when players where going in and out of the game for various reasons. Rob Ryan smiled and gave me that look like, pretty neat huh? He told me that he and the staff had a really good feel for what the Bengals were trying to do to him scheme-wise, but the trick was trying to match his players up with what they showed in their formation.
The problem with this is not only the players, but how you communicate with them. Little do people know that during the game, Ryan and the staff had to change who made the huddle calls with their linebackers because of medical problems with Spencer and Sims during.
Where Ryan was most proud of his players was how well they were able to adjust to what the Bengals were trying to do. Ryan told me that they would make a huddle call, then check the huddle call when quarterback Andy Dalton would change the play at the line. In essence, Ryan was running a "Check with me" defense to try and match the Bengals.
It is amazing they played that way, and you saw it last week against the Eagles. When you have players that are playing out of position, you can give up big plays, but instead of forcing the issue, Ryan just adjusted and played his base packages. With a week's more work, he was able to take a different line of attack.
I asked Ryan about the penalty he got during the game and he knew he was wrong but he wasn't going to back down or not fight for his players. In watching the game on the way home last night, he had a right to complain. There were plenty of opportunities for this crew to call holding really on both sides of the ball, but they didn't do it.
After talking to Ryan, I thought to myself, now if I can just get him to play more press coverage with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, things would be great. But then I reminded myself that scouts scout and coaches coach and for that I am grateful.
He was Sterling
There is not a better feeling for a pro personnel department than when you help your coaches win a game with a player that you brought in during the season. There really is a trust between the coaches and scouts when it comes to players. The most important thing you always have to remember as a scout is to try and find players that fit your scheme, but also could possibly play multiple positions.
Sterling Moore was signed off the New England Patriots practice squad, which is a team that is known for using their players in different ways. For the Cowboys, there are plenty of guys that are playing out of place because of the problems with the injuries. Moore has been here for a little over a week and has already played in two victories.
Where Moore helps this team is in his ability to play both as a corner and safety. In the Eagles game last week, he lined up at dime linebacker after no practice and with only sessions in the classroom with secondary coach Jerome Henderson to get ready for the game.
Against the Bengals, he got work as the dime cornerback and covered tight end Jermaine Gresham, which is no easy task because of his size and his ability to get up the field. Gresham made a highlight one-handed catch against Moore, but he was in great position on the route and if the ball was thrown anywhere other than where it was, he had a shot at the play.
During the week, Moore got work as a corner in the nickel, but also in the slot in the dime. When Claiborne went out with his injury, Mike Jenkins moved from nickel corner to Claiborne's spot as the starter. Where Ryan and the coaches had to get creative is when Jenkins had to go into the slot when they went nickel. The move they made was to put Moore on the outside and when they went to their dime, they brought Vince Agnew into Moore's spot.
To Moore's credit, he did a nice job on the outside. His movement and awareness was good. The Bengals tried to take him on a 9-route down the field and he was step for step with his man. He looked comfortable in zone coverage, and did a nice job with Carr and Jenkins handling a bunch formation when Dalton's pass fell incomplete to A.J. Green getting the defense off the field on third down.
This defense has been about flexibility all season, and with a guy like Moore on your roster, Ryan has some better matchup options.