He might not be the most popular choice among Who Dat Nation but Rob Ryan will be interviewing with the New Orleans Saints this week regardless. Let's take a look at Rob Ryan's NFL resume, specifically as a defensive coordinator.
Rob Ryan started his NFL career as defensive backs coach under his father Buddy Ryan with the Cardinals from 1994-1995. After some time in the college ranks, Ryan returned to the NFL in 2000. From 2000-2003 Ryan served as linebackers coach for the New England Patriots, winning two Super Bowls (XXXVI and XXXVIII).
Ryan received his first defensive coordinator opportunity in Oakland in 2004. He served as the Raiders DC for five seasons from 2004-2008. Ryan's peak season came in his third with the Raiders (2006) where his defense ranked third in the NFL.
Ryan next joined Cleveland as DC for two seasons (2009-2010) but his defense ranked 31st in his first season with the Browns. His defense made minor improvements in his second season in Cleveland ranking 22nd. His most notable win with the Browns came on October 24, 2010 as Cleveland beat the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in the Superdome.
Ryan's most recent coaching job came in Dallas where for the past two seasons he served as the Cowboys DC. He had a more successful tenure in Dallas than in Cleveland but his best defensive ranking with the Cowboys was 14th in his first season.
Here is a statistical breakdown of Rob Ryan's career as a defensive coordinator. The numbers indicate Ryan's defensive rankings over his career:
|Defense||Rushing Def||Passing Def|
The 2006 season in Oakland was clearly Ryan's peak and his defenses have been quite inconsistent since. In Dallas, Ryan had arguably the NFL's best defensive player in DeMarcus Ware and one of the more talented secondaries in the league. Even with all of this at his disposal, the Cowboys achieved consistent mediocrity under Ryan. What would he do with a consistently mediocre Saints defensive lineup?
It seems as though Ryan is getting a look as Saints DC solely because he is one of the more high profile coordinators in the NFL that runs the 3-4 defense. The Saints don't have anything to lose by "kicking the tires" on Rob Ryan but they would be best served by exploring all available options before making such a crucial decision.
Although the Saints defense has nowhere to go but up, this defensive coordinator hire is too important to get wrong. The Saints are a veteran squad whose dynamic offense is at its peak. Years cannot be wasted on a bad hire with Drew Brees leading the offense, and the Saints simply can't afford to make another Steve Spagnuolo level mistake at this juncture.
I believe in the Sean Payton/Mickey Loomis brain trust and I think they'll make the best decision going forward. The next move they make will be very interesting indeed.