Rex Ryan competing with key NY Jets assistant coach for Cowboys DC job

It's Rex Ryan vs. Marquand Manuel in Dallas

Former NY Jets head coach Rex Ryan at an NFL game
Former NY Jets head coach Rex Ryan at an NFL game / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's a good chance someone with NY Jets coaching ties is named the new defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, and it's very possible it will be Rex Ryan. Yes, that Rex Ryan.

The Cowboys reportedly interviewed the former NFL coach for their vacant defensive coordinator position on Wednesday, making him one of the first known candidates for the role.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel is set to interview with the Cowboys for the same job on Thursday. This is the second interview that Manuel has received this offseason, as he previously met with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their defensive coordinator opening.

Manuel is at least an active coach. The 61-year-old Ryan hasn't coached at any level of the sport since he was fired by the Buffalo Bills in 2016. That's almost eight years ago.

Rex Ryan would be an objectively hilarious hire for the Cowboys

Ryan has been quietly looking to return to the NFL as a coach in recent years. Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton was reportedly considering Ryan for his team's defensive coordinator job last year before he opted for Vance Joseph instead.

At his peak, Ryan was one of the brightest defensive minds in the NFL. His defensive prowess helped engineer a dominant Baltimore Ravens defense in the mid-2000s, and his work with the Jets as a head coach needs no introduction.

Still, that "peak" was over a decade ago. Ryan's latter days as Jets head coach won't be at the front of his resume, and the less said about his Bills tenure, the better.

The Cowboys are also interested in a few other experienced names, such as the recently fired Ron River and former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who similarly hasn't coached in the NFL in a few years.

Ryan, however, would be one of the wildest coaching hires in recent memory. It's fun to imagine what a Cowboys defense, led by the likes of Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, etc., would look like under Ryan's leadership in 2024 — but it's also fair to be skeptical.

Either way, Rex Ryan would certainly fit the Cowboys' mold. They may not win a championship, but they're always interesting. Ryan has never been accused of not being interesting.

It would be fun to see Ryan back in the NFL, and if it means the Jets get to keep one of their top defensive assistants, then here's to hoping it happens.