"I have great respect for what Rob brings to the table as I've had to compete against his units twice a year for the past two years," said Raiders Head Coach Norv Turner, who spent the past two seasons as the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator. "His linebackers always played at a high level and consistently produced big plays."
The 41-year old Ryan is the third highly respected coach added to the Raiders staff since Turner was named head coach on January 26. Jimmy Raye (assistant head coach/offensive coordinator) and Joe Avezzano (special teams) have also joined the Raiders during the 2004 offseason.
Ryan, the son of defensive coaching legend Buddy Ryan, has previous experience as a defensive coordinator at the college level, having served in that capacity at Oklahoma State from 1994-95 and at Hutchinson Community College in 1996.
"It's a dream come true as I have always wanted to be a part of the Silver and Black," said Ryan. "There is a lot of talent on this football team, both with seasoned veterans and young, up-and-coming players and that excites me. The personnel matches up real favorably with the team I just left in New England and I'm looking forward to doing some great things here. It's about time a Ryan joins this organization. "
In 2003, Ryan's linebacking corps helped the Patriots defense rank first in the NFL in fewest points allowed (238) while ranking seventh overall in the NFL in total defense. Ryan's unit also contributed to one of the best scoring defenses in franchise history in 2001, as the Patriots allowed just 17 points per game. It was the lowest point production allowed by the Patriots in 24 years when the 1977 squad held their opponents to just 15.5 points per game.
Ryan originally entered the NFL coaching ranks in 1994 as defensive backs coach on his father's staff at the Arizona Cardinals. He also coached Cardinals cornerbacks and safeties in 1995. With Ryan as his position coach, cornerback Aeneas Williams earned two trips to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Cardinals in 1994 and '95. In 1995, the Cardinals' 32 interceptions and 42 total takeaways led the NFL.
From 1997-99, Ryan was Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator, where the Cowboys defense was continually ranked among the best in the nation. In 1999, they were ranked 10th in the nation in total defense and ninth in passing yards allowed. In 1998, they were second in the nation with 41 sacks. In his first season at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys defense finished among the nation's top 20 in turnover margin, rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense, allowing just 302.7 yards per game. It was an over 100-yard improvement per game from the year before and helped the Cowboys produce an 8-4 mark and an Alamo Bowl berth.
He began his coaching career as an assistant at Western Kentucky in 1987 and then coached outside linebackers at Ohio State in 1988. Ryan then spent five seasons at Tennessee State, where he coached running backs (1989-91), linebackers (1992) and the defensive line (1993).
He served as defensive coordinator at Hutchinson Community College in 1996, where they led the nation in total defense (228 yards per game) and in sacks (56). His defense also set a national record by forcing 49 turnovers, which generated eight touchdowns in 10 games.
Hutchinson also topped the conference in total defense, run defense and pass defense. Ryan played three seasons as a defensive end and outside linebacker at Southwestern Oklahoma State. His twin brother, Rex, is a defensive line coach with the Baltimore Ravens.