BATON ROUGE – One of the most surprising offseason moves was also one of the quickest, as Rob Ryan's tenure as defensive coordinator came to a close almost immediately after season's end.
That decision to fire Ryan surprised most of his players, including Marcus Spears, whose time on the Cowboys also ended before his contract was up.
"I don't feel like he should have been fired," Spears said at LSU's Pro Day. "I thought he did a great job from where we came a year prior to that, but to each his own. Organizations do what they feel is best for them, and at the end of the day, you can't knock them for that, because hopefully they're making a decision trying to get to the championship."
Spears said he imagines a great deal of thought went into the decision to get rid of Ryan, but he suspects the animated coordinator will do well in New Orleans. Spears respected Ryan's ability to understand different players' personalities and how he approached the players as men.
"I think they're going to realize they're going to have a coach that listens to his players, energetic, very approachable," Spears said. "As a vet or a player in general, when you can approach your coach with a concern or you feel like something should be done different and actually he takes it into account, not saying he changes it, but he takes it into account, you feel like you have a relationship with him off the field and you can go to him, and in turn it makes you play better."
The typically chatty Ryan avoided the spotlight in Baton Rouge. He guided the Pro Day participants and chatted with some of the onlookers and scouts, but he let his former players speak for him when it came to the media.
That included former Tigers safety and current Cowboys safety Danny McCray, who was also shocked to see Ryan go.
But the sense of surprise didn't last long for McCray, who remembered how quickly things changed after he arrived in Dallas in 2010 when the team went 6-10. Ryan became the Cowboys' defensive coordinator in 2011.
"Rob's a great coach," McCray said. "So you don't really question it, it just kind of hits you, especially because it happens so fast. The season's over, then all of a sudden you see one thing, you kind of speculate who would it be, who would it be, and you have that one person that you really just take out of the circle that it won't be, and it ends up being that guy." [embedded_ad]
When Ryan was fired, the Cowboys hadn't announced who the replacement would be. McCray said he's excited about starting new with Monte Kiffin.
"I went in and stuck my head in and talked to those guys," McCray said. "It looks like we're going to have fun this year. It'll be a good year. We're changing some things. We just need that time to get that work in and see how it goes."