With the New Orleans Saints bringing in a new Defensive Line Coach in Ryan Nielson, I thought it best to go the fans who watched his product on a weekly basis for a scouting report. Steven, Managing Editor of SB Nation’s Backing the Pack - the page dedicated to North Carolina State, Nielson’s former home as Defensive Line Coach - was gracious enough to answer a few questions about what Saints fans can expect from their new assistant coach.
So first, Steven, were you sad to see Ryan Nielson leave North Carolina State, or do you view him as welcome departure for your school? Kind of like addition by subtraction.
I was definitely disappointed to see him leave, though I can't say I'm surprised. I think he was always destined for bigger things.
Was there any noticeable change in the performance of the defensive line as a unit consistently pre-Nielson's time at N.C. State and then after his arrival?
Absolutely. Since 2013, when Nielsen came on board with the new coaching staff, NC State's defensive line has developed into the strength of the defense. It was both deep and disruptive in 2016. For those of you familiar with Bill Connelly's advanced statistics--the NCSU DL ranked 12th nationally in havoc rate and 13th in sack rate on standard downs.
The Saints have a great DE in Cam Jordan and a young 1st Round Pick from last year’s draft in DT Sheldon Rankins. What if anything is known about Nielson's ability to develop young players on the defensive line?
Every single standout on the current NCSU defensive line has worked with Neilsen since they were freshmen. He's helped turn Bradley Chubb into an all-conference player (21.5 TFL last year) and made B.J. Hill a force at tackle. NC State has recruited well up front, but neither of those kids were highly touted.
So I’m afraid to ask, but were there ever any character issues or scandals involving Nielson during his time with the Wolfpack?
Overall, what can Saints fans expect from their new defensive line coach in a nutshell?
Lots of energy and probably some pretty good coaching.
Thank-you, Steven, for taking the time to answer our questions. So Saints fans - do you feel better, worse, or in different now about our new Defensive Line Coach? Make sure you check out the work Steven and his guys are doing over at Backing the Pack. You can follow them on Twitter, @BackingThePack and you can follow Steven on Twitter @akulawolf. Then of course, as always, you can follow me on Twitter @dunnellz.