First off, Look. At. That. Flow.
Currently, due to the clean sweep of the management and the coaching staff of this team (besides maybe a few assistants), we are currently searching for our next defensive coordinator. As many of you likely saw, Rob Ryan was recently fired from the Dallas Cowboys and is available. These are my opinions on the pros and cons of hiring Ryan to direct our defense
1. He runs a 3-4.
The type of scheme our next defensive coordinator will use seems to be the biggest concern amongst many of us chiefs fans, myself included.
Our defense has looked good at times in the 3-4 and will only improve as they benefit from the decrease in turnovers from our offensive unit and better field position (This is a given because, well, we really can't get any worse than last year). Switching schemes often sets a team back further. The 3-4 is also much more cost effective when compared to the 4-3 because of the premium defensive ends in the 4-3 demand. Typically, those pass rushers are harder to find and are more expensive.
Of the available big name defensive coordinators we have been considering so far, almost all seem to run a 4-3 (Monte Kiffin, Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith, Kevin Greene, etc). Ryan is one of the very few available with experience that runs a 3-4. While I don't think it would be the end of the world if we switched to a 4-3, it would be less than ideal.
2. The way he uses safeties.
Romeo's scheme over the past few years has often seen Eric Berry play a little out of position in my opinion. He was constantly called on to basically be an extra linebacker and help in the run game. While Berry certainly does this well, I don't believe that unleashes his full potential.
In Ryan's scheme, there never seems to be a true free or strong safety. His ideal safety is a player who can both be a "ball hawk" and be able to step up in run support or blitz. This explains Berry 'to a T'. However, I believe we would have to bring another safety on board that has a similar skill set to Barry. This is crucial because Lewis is prone to constant injury and isn't a force in run support. Names that pop to mind in the draft are Eric Reid, Matt Elam and Tony Jefferson.
Giving Berry more freedom to patrol the field as well as another player coming in (hopefully) who can help in run support more so than Lewis would be a win win.
3. Sacks. Sacks. Sacks.
This is probably my favorite characteristic of Ryan's scheme. When it comes to defense, I love being aggressive and going after the QB. If you've watched Elite QB's such as Brady or Manning, you've probably realized that being conservative is often an awful option. They will find an open man and they more often than not will deliver a nice pass. The most successful way in stopping an elite QB is to get in his face, put him on the ground, and make him uncomfortable.
Before I get into what Ryan uses I want to share some stats I calculated.
- Average sacks per year for the Chiefs in the past five years = 25.20
- Average sacks per year for Rob Ryan led defense in the past five years = 34.83
- Average sacks per year for all Rob Ryan led defenses = 34.5
- Of the 9 years as a DC, five were with the god awful Raiders, two were with the god awful Browns and two were with the mediocre Cowboys.
Crennel's scheme was often criticized for being unaggressive and concentrated more on preventing the big play than actually attacking the defense and making a big play itself. Ryan's defenses are much more aggressive and concentrated on making the big stops rather than playing on their heels.
4. Use of disguise and deception.
This ties in with my last point pretty strongly. When I think of the two defenses in the last ten years that I would least want to face, I immediately think of the Ravens and the Steelers;deception/disguise is what made them thrive. The biggest component of their defenses is the confusion they inflict on the offensive line due to various forms of disguised blitzes and smokescreens. Simply put, if the defense doesn't know where the pressure is coming from, it's much harder to protect the quarterback.
4b. Ryan uses many zone blitzes, often involving corners and safeties. One of his favorite blitzing schemes is called the "fire zone". The fire zone is a blitz package that rushes five and has three deep and three underneath coverage. This is especially effective on 3rd down. Without going to far into detail, it is effective because
- It often forces the QB to get rid of the ball quickly as there is a high number of rushers and they often overload one side.
- 3 Deep coverage is strong against deep throws. Typically, QB goes through his reads from Deep ->Short, which in turn will usually give the blitzers more time.
- It encourages very short passes, which we will gladly give the defense on 3rd and long.
- The weakness of the fire zone is that it can sometimes rely heavily on the 3 underneath to tackle speedy slot receivers (as a team, I think our LBs, CBs and Safeties are rather strong tacklers).
4c. Some other very interesting packages Ryan uses are the "psycho" and the "cloud". To summarize briefly, the psycho uses one down lineman and the cloud uses zero down lineman. Having a coordinator that isn't afraid to utilize many formations, including exotic ones, is an advantage in my opinion. It makes us more versatile and even harder to predict.
5. A lot of experience.
Ryan has served as DC for three years at the college level (Oklahoma State) and nine years in the NFL (Raiders, Browns, Cowboys). On various teams, he's served as a Linebacker's coach, OLB coach, and Defensive Back's coach. It's safe to say that he knows his way around a defense. Experience is invaluable.
1. Ego/Public image.
This is one big flaw with Ryan, and and it's a glaring one. Similar to his brother Rex, he often opens his mouth when he doesn't need to and says things that he shouldn't. Kansas City as a franchise is often looked at as a very reputable and class act. As far as trash talk and making claims, it's been pretty much non existent. Our coaches have often been well liked across the league and "the right 53" was preached until our ears fell off. We draft captains, rarely take chances on problem players and divas, and handle our issues internally.
Ryan is quite the opposite of the trend. Just recently after being fired from Dallas, he claimed "I made them a hell of a lot better. I'll be out of work for like five minutes". Quite the inflated ego if I may say so myself.
The small positive to take out of this is that he would most likely bring fire to the defense. I loved Romeo, but he was the nice grandpa that gives everyone candy. Ryan wants a hard hitting and high energy defense.
Would he even work well with Andy Reid? Would Clark Hunt even want to deal with someone like him? These are major question marks.
2. Defensive linemen for his scheme.
If you don't know, there is many different variations of the 3-4. Most teams in the NFL employ a 1-gap scheme where defensive linemen are each responsible for only one gap. However, for the past few years, the Chiefs have employed a 2-gap scheme. Crennel's defense on the Chiefs was basically the same as the defense he ran in New England.
Ryan also runs a 2-gap scheme (there are differences between his defense and Crennel's obviously). The problem here is the defensive linemen it requires and who we will have under contract this upcoming season.
The main theme in the 3-4 and especially in the 2-gap scheme is for the defensive linemen to occupy as many offensive linemen as possible in order to let the linebackers make plays. With talented defensive lineman (Nose Tackle being most important), the defense will thrive. The patriots have almost always had atleast two "studs" along their defensive line. Wilfork, Seymour, Warren among others. Steelers- Keisel, Hampton, Smith, etc.
What do we have? Well, Dorsey will most likely not be returning to us next season, he was a square peg in a round hole anyway. Jackson will most likely be here and has improved, but is still no stud in my opinion. Poe is very unproven, but he has great promise. So in short, there is some possible future talent on the line, but as of now, there isn't any defensive linemen that really disrupt the defense.
Ryan will need some help on the defensive line via the draft or free agency if he is to succeed.
All in all, I think Ryan would be a terrific coordinator here if we could duct tape his mouth shut and prevent him from talking to the media. Although some Dallas fans agree with his firing, there is a large contingent that believe they fired the wrong coordinator. Many Dallas fans believe Ryan kept them in the playoff hunt for the first 2/3 of the season and he is being used as a scapegoat for the cowboys failures.
I'm willing to take the chance and hire Ryan to run our defense if Reid agrees. What do you think fellow chief fans? Yay or Nay?
P.S. This wasn't meant to be this long of an article when I started it.