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Rob Ryan and the New Orleans Saints: A Perfect Fit

The Saints need someone larger-than-life to take over the worst defense in the NFL. I think they've found their match.


Rob Ryan should not be the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. Just look at the numbers.

This is a guy who’s never had an NFL defense rank higher than 13th in points allowed in the history of his coaching career. The Cowboys only averaged 1.3 turnovers a game with Ryan at the helm (good for 26th in the NFL) and he’s only lead one defense to a top ten finish ever – and that was with Oakland seven years ago.

He’s emotional. He’s raw. And he’s just what the doctor ordered.

To top it off, the Ryan brother who looks like the Big Lebowski always seems to find himself garnering unwanted attention when he steps in front of a microphone. The Dude just won’t shut up.

Mix that all together and you have one cocktail not even New Orleans fans would want to drink. With a defense coming off the worst statistical season in NFL history and the organization desperately trying to avoid the spotlight for off-the-field issues, it seems like Ryan would be the worst choice Sean Payton could have made to fill his vacant defensive coordinator position.

Think again.

Rob Ryan is exactly what the Saints need to get back to their "kill-the-head" ways that helped bring a coveted Lombardi Trophy to the Crescent City. In fact, I couldn’t think of anyone better suited to do just that.

For starters, Ryan brings his vaunted 3-4 scheme to New Orleans that fits the Saints personnel much better than the 4-3. When Vilma was originally suspended for the entire 2012 season the Saints were forced to pick up a stud inside linebacker to make up for his absence. Enter Curtis Lofton.

With Lofton and Vilma both patrolling the middle, Rob Ryan has the base he needs to effectively run the 3-4 with Will Smith and a combination of Martez Wilson/Junior Galette on the outside. And don’t forget about the Akiem Hicks-John Jenkins duo that will be stuffing the run at nose tackle. These two together will be a force on the defensive line and are the perfect fit for Ryan up the middle.

Sure, the Saints don’t have a Demarcus Ware-type superstar who can disrupt the backfield with regularity. I’ll give you that.

But Rob Ryan has more than enough talent to mold New Orleans’ D into a respectable unit that puts pressure on the quarterback, creates turnovers, and forces bad decisions.

Ryan hasn’t exactly had the benefit of working with a stellar offense in his career, and having Drew Brees and company put up consistent numbers will only help his cause. This stat from Bleacher Report really brings it home:

In Ryan's nine seasons as a defensive coordinator, his offenses have given him a lead of at least eight points or more in 37 games. In those 37 games, his teams have won 27 of them.

When he gets a lead he usually holds it, and now Ryan will have the best offense in football securing points for him every Sunday.

This is a combination destined to work.

What may be even more important than his scheme, however, is his style of leadership. Ryan is a confident man and to hell with you if you don’t like it. He’s like Gregg Williams, only when you laugh at Rob Ryan it’s because he’s actually trying to be funny.

His personality is almost as big as his gut, and that’s a good thing. The Saints are a team driven by emotion and Ryan will provide the spark that gets guys licking their chops before every down.

It was that fearless style of play that led to some of the defining moments of the team’s 2009 Super Bowl run – a style of play I expect to come roaring back under Rex’s better half.

This is a combination destined to work.

Rob Ryan oozes intensity, which is the one thing the Saints defense needs more than anything else. I picture him at practice slugging down Red Bulls and screaming incoherently with a Nerds Rope hanging from his mouth. When someone makes a mistake, he simply stares at them like he’s going to eat them for his mid-day snack.

With that as your motivation what more do you need?

Ryan has brought swagger back to the New Orleans Saints defense. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s doing it with an even bigger purpose after being unceremoniously fired by Dallas after just two short years.

Rob Ryan is now coaching with a chip on his shoulder. And while that chip may be chocolate, it’s definitely still there.

So what if his scheme has more wrinkles than Roger Goodell’s ass? Who cares if he says exactly what he thinks? Rob Ryan is the man for the job and you couldn’t convince me otherwise.

He’s emotional. He’s raw. And he’s just what the doctor ordered.

The Saints will begin their quest for another championship at home against the hated Atlanta Falcons Sept. 8, and that game will set the tone for the defense the rest of the year. I look for the 3-4 to cause Matt Ryan a lot of struggles early on and I expect Ryan’s D to continually improve week-to-week.

If I’m wrong you can hang me by my eyelids from Benson Tower on Fat Tuesday. I’m that confident. But even if the Saints struggle and he fails miserably in New Orleans, Rob Ryan will always bounce back.

I’m sure he’ll only be out of work for like five minutes.

Follow me on Twitter @CoryGunkel

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