Considering that Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini aren’t defensive coordinator prospects that you would run home and tell mom about, it’s only logical that the Saints would seek a bigger name like Rob Ryan if he were available. Brace yourself Saints fans, because that day has come. It’s time to hop aboard the Ryan train because New Orleans could be its next destination.
Ryan was hired by the St. Louis Rams to fill their defensive coordinator vacancy the day the Saints fired Steve Spagnuolo and announced the team’s desire to switch to a 3-4 defensive front, but the Rams have recently changed their minds, letting Ryan walk before receiving an official contract.
Reportedly, the decision to part ways this soon was primarily the Rams’ call because Ryan did not want to adapt to the team’s current scheme. However, it’s absolutely conceivable and realistic to think that Ryan may have played a role in this, as he possibly saw a better opportunity (like the Saints’ defensive coordinator vacancy) arise.
Now, I’m not saying that Ryan went George Costanza on the Rams like he did with the New York Yankees in Seinfeld, but I am suggesting that the Saints’ job is ideal for a fiery competitor with a 3-4 background that wants to win a Super Bowl now. Rob Ryan is Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan’s younger brother. And despite Rex’s recent struggles as a head coach, he and his brother are defensive masterminds (that’s how Rex got the Jets’ job in the first place). The Ryans know 3-4 defenses.
Rob Ryan has plenty of 3-4 experience, converting the Cleveland Browns to a 3-4 when he was hired as the defensive coordinator in 2009. The Browns’ defense improved from 21st in 2008 (before he was there) to 9th in 2009. They finished 17th overall in defense in 2010, but the team never sniffed the postseason either year because of an anemic offense.
Ryan then took the Dallas Cowboys’ DC job, but he was fired after two years of mediocrity with the team. I don’t mean to make excuses for him, but the fact is that he struggled in his first season because the team failed to pick up the complex scheme in a very shortened off-season due to the NFL lockout. And in his second season, although the team made huge upgrades in terms of personnel (especially in the secondary), his defensive unit was plagued by injuries to key players. His star MLB, Sean Lee, got hurt in week 6 and missed the remainder of the season. His other starting ILB, Bruce Carter, went down in week 12, so the Cowboys were playing with scrubs at inside linebacker. All-pro DE Jay Ratliff played in only five games in 2012. On the other side, starting DE Kenyon Coleman only played in 7 games. And superstar OLB Demarcus Ware was playing with a nagging shoulder injury all season. These five injuries weakened Dallas’ run defense. Essentially, I do not believe Ryan should have been fired.
Regardless, although he looks ridiculous, Rob Ryan is basically the 3-4’s version of Gregg Williams. He’s never short on confidence, an extremely over-aggressive play-caller, and just the type of defensive coordinator Sean Payton would seemingly like on his staff to run the new 3-4 defense.
The Saints need a risky play-caller because not only can our defense NOT get anybody off the field with basic, conservative play-calling (because we don’t have the talent), it makes sense from a strategic standpoint as well. The reason that Gregg Williams was so successful wasn’t because his defenses were good. In fact, most years, they were awful. But Gregg Williams’ wouldn’t mind giving up big plays to put his unit in position to create turnovers. The logic here is: when your offense is THAT dominant, as the Saints have been, getting a turnover or two on defense will likely win you the game. It’s senseless to try to contain the opposing offense when your defense is that bad; teams will nickel-and-dime you all the way down the field. Therefore, you may as well go for big plays; while your team will give some up, you will also create turnovers, which ultimately is a much better alternative than zero turnovers, because the opposing offense was likely going to score regardless, whether it’s a 3-play drive or 15-play drive.
This is all just speculation, but I’m guessing that the Saints will pursue Ryan shortly. So get used to his luscious blonde locks and thin, sexy figure. Because even though he looks like a homeless couch potato (if that’s even possible), I think he’d be the perfect fit for our defense.
*Photo Credit: Gary Cameron, REUTERS
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