Whenever Ravens Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda looks across the line of scrimmage at the Dallas Cowboys' front seven or tilts his gaze toward their sideline Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, he'll be greeted by a familiar sight.
No, the Cowboys' defensive scheme isn't an exact replica of how swaggering former Ravens defensive coordinator and current New York Jets coach Rex Ryan runs his defenses. And Ryan's long-haired, feisty identical twin brother, Rob Ryan, resembles a Hells Angels biker more than his clean-cut brother.
However, there are still a lot of shared traits between the Cowboys' multiple 3-4 defense and the aggressive approach Rex Ryan has orchestrated in Baltimore and New York.
"Yeah, you see a lot of similarities," Yanda said. "It's like a hybrid 3-4 defense. DeMarcus Ware is their big pass-rushing threat, and I'm sure he'll be flying around Sunday. Rob Ryan's a good coach, and they've got a good football team. Both Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan get after it. They want to dominate you.
"I'm sure they'll be looking to stop the run first, make us throw and get after us in any way possible. It's all about being physical. They look like a good group. They play hard, and they're stout. We'll have to bring our 'A' game Sunday."
In Ryan's first season in Dallas, Ware recorded 19 1/2 sacks. This year, Ware has five sacks and three forced fumbles.
Dallas is ranked fourth in total defense, first against the pass and 15th against the run.
"Obviously, they are well-coached and they're multiple, and obviously they play more fronts, more coverages, than any defense we've faced at this point," Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said of the Cowboys. "The good news is we see a lot of that in practice every day in our defense and have since we've been here. Rob and Rex are a little bit different, but the bottom line is they have good defenses and you just have to do a great job of preparation and you just have to make sure everybody comes ready to play."
Of course, both Ryan brothers learned the art of defense from their father, the legendary Buddy Ryan.
"Again, a great football family," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "Obviously, Buddy is one of the great coaches, ever, in this league, and both Rob and Rex are outstanding coaches, great coordinators. We’re fortunate to have Rob here. He’s a guy who knows football inside and out. He obviously grew up with it. He was a very good position coach and has been a very good coordinator in this league for a number of years, and the guys really respond to him.
"He brings a toughness. I think he brings a personality to our team, and ike I said, the guys love playing for him. He allows us to be multiple on the defensive side of the ball, which we think is a positive thing. And again, the guys rally around and love to play for him.”