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Garrett likes what Ryan can bring to his defense

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was the perfect segue illustrating just what a true odd couple the Dallas Cowboys have in the coaches leading the offense and defense.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett followed New York Jets coach Rex Ryan on the podium at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday.

And, of course, the bombastic Ryan again predicted his Jets were going to win the Super Bowl next season.

Asked if he was going to make the same prediction, the professorial and conservative Garrett declined.

"I cannot do the same," Garrett said. "We all want to compete and certainly participate and win a Super Bowl. We're going to be more focused on the process along the way."

There is no denying Garrett would like to duplicate Ryan's success -- playing in consecutive conference title games in his first two years as coach.

And he will do it leaning on Ryan's family tree after hiring Rex's equally cocky and bodacious twin, Rob, to run the Dallas defense.

It was Rob Ryan who promised last week that the Cowboys' defense, which in 2010 was the worst in team history, will be great from the outset next season.

While people on the outside look at Garrett's button-downed style and Ryan's penchant for four-letter words as an odd match, the Cowboys' new head coach focuses mainly on the football aspect of the relationship.

Garrett called it a perfect fit because of Ryan's experience, expertise in the 3-4 defense and his creativity in being able to attack in different ways.

"Everybody had great things to say about him as a person and as a coach," Garrett said. "He has a great background as a college coach, the different stops he made and certainly the NFL as well. He's been around winners his whole life.

"He has a system that fits our players. We wanted to have a 3-4 guy and that was important to us and we interviewed a number of guys who ran that scheme and he was just a guy that was so impressive in his background."

Garrett said he had no problem with Ryan's bravado because "you want confident people. You want people to believe in themselves."

But he was most impressed with Ryan's passion and how he literally tore his suit off during the interview when he got comfortable and started designing plays.

"He came into my office and he had on a coat and tie and his hair was nicely combed," Garrett said. "But we started talking football and about 3 minutes into our conversation I'd never seen a guy who wanted to get out of a coat and tie more than this guy and so I said, 'Rob, just take the thing off,' so literally he went boom and got rid of the tie, grabbed a pen and started going on the board. And it didn't take long. I was impressed by the effort."

Similarly, Garrett's ability to be open-minded and think outside the box in an effort to do the best job he can for the Cowboys is what led him to spend last weekend picking the brain of Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The trip was set up by former Cowboys running back Calvin Hill, whose son Grant played at Duke.

"He said you need to go see Coach K. And I said don't ask me twice," Garrett recalled. "As soon as that was made available, we made sure we had time to do it."

Garrett said he is not trying to emulate Duke basketball, but there is a lot he learned about running a successful program -- structurally, organizationally and personally.

"I would make the argument that any organization -- family, church, business, ice cream shop, football team, basketball program -- if you can get what they've been doing there and somehow get it in the organization, it's a good thing because he [Coach K] has done that," Garrett said. "That was impressive. It was so seamless in its execution of everything and then it was so personal -- so personal -- and everyone responds to it."

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


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