The Dallas Cowboys‘ agreement to bring back former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as defensive coordinator is not yet fully finalized, and the team has reached back out to former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan about the position, according to an ESPN report Monday.
NFL Media first reported Thursday that the Cowboys were bringing back Zimmer, who was the defensive backs coach for the team’s last Super Bowl run in 1995 and later their defensive coordinator from 2000-2006. However, ESPN reported Sunday that Ryan, who currently serves as an NFL analyst with the network, also made a very strong impression on Cowboys officials, including team owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
Ryan himself first hinted on ESPN’s Super Bowl pregame show Sunday that he did not believe Zimmer’s agreement with the team was as firm as had been reported. According to a report Monday, Jones told people in Las Vegas during Super Bowl week that his interview with Ryan left him “ready to run through a wall,” and the Cowboys had reconnected with Ryan just minutes before his on-air comments Sunday.
Ryan has been out of coaching since his firing by the Bills just before the end of the 2016 season, and has been a television analyst with ESPN on a regular basis since 2017. However, he publicly expressed his desire on Sunday to get back into coaching, revealing on-air that he called Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy about the position once previous Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn left to become head coach of the Washington Commanders.
Ryan was previously the Jets head coach from 2009-14 and reached the AFC Championship Game twice during that stretch after a decade as a Baltimore Ravens assistant that included the team’s first Super Bowl title in 2000. He has no direct history with the Cowboys, though his twin brother, Rob Ryan, served as the team’s defensive coordinator from 2011-12 under then-head coach Jason Garrett.
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