It’s official, Rob Ryan is heading to New Orleans. The Saints have hired Ryan to fill their defensive coordinator opening.
“In regards to Rob, we have experience in preparing and playing against his defenses and they’ve always been challenging in terms of the different looks and pressures that they feature,” Saints coach Sean Payton said in a press release.
Ryan was the favorite after things didn’t work out with the St. Louis Rams. University of Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham interviewed Thursday, but withdrew his name from consideration.
It’s been an odd offseason for the former Dallas Cowboys coordinator. He was unceremoniously fired in Dallas, then hired/not hired in St. Louis. Now he lands in New Orleans, which might be the best spot of the three. Ryan won’t have to win games with his defense, since Drew Brees runs one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL (Editors note: So did Dallas!) . The 2012 season for the Saints broke a three-year run of playoff berths, and was more of a fluke as a result of of the bounty suspensions.
“I have had the opportunity to get to know Sean Payton and his staff a bit better recently and I am excited about joining the team,” Ryan said. “I have a ton of respect for (owner Tom) Benson, (general manager) Mikey (Loomis) and the organization and I’m ready to get to work on all facets of the game. This is a great opportunity and we’re getting started right away.”
Payton is back and wants Ryan to install his 3-4 scheme. The changeover shouldn’t be that difficult, considering they didn’t play the 4-3 all that well. The defense only has to be average for the Saints to become one of the league’s top teams again. They won seven games with the worst total defense in 2012.
The defense ran some 3-4 looks, but Ryan will need a few new bodies to fit the system full-time — a pass rusher, cornerback and safety are first on the list.
The New Orleans Saints have announced two coaching staff additions. The club has hired Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator and Stan Kwan as assistant special teams coach.
“I’m pleased the opportunity has presented itself for us to be able to add both Rob Ryan and Stan Kwan to our coaching staff,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “In regards to Rob, we have experience in preparing and playing against his defenses and they’ve always been challenging in terms of the different looks and pressures that they feature. We’ve had the chance to visit with each other and talk about our visions for our team and I’m excited about moving forward as we prepare for the 2013 season. Rob is enthusiastic about joining our team and getting right to work. Stan is a veteran coach that understands all nuances of the special teams games and will work closely with Greg McMahon. He has a wealth of knowledge and I believe he will be a good fit on our staff.”
“I am excited and thrilled to be joining the New Orleans Saints,” Ryan said. “I have had the opportunity to get to know Sean Payton and his staff a bit better recently and I am excited about joining the team. I have a ton of respect for Mr. Benson, Mickey (Loomis) and the organization and I’m ready to get to work on all facets of the game. This is a great opportunity and we’re getting started right away.”
A nine-year veteran as a defensive coordinator, Ryan joins New Orleans after spending the last two seasons running the defense of the Dallas Cowboys. Under his tutelage in 2011, Dallas’ team defense improved to 14th overall in the NFL after finishing 23rd in 2010, ranking seventh against the run. In 2012, the Cowboys were one of only three teams in the NFL to have two players with 11 or more sacks, as LB DeMarcus Ware led the team with 11.5 and LB Anthony Spencer posted a career-high 11 takedowns. Both players were selected to the Pro Bowl. Cowboys opponents were held to a 43.9 % third down conversion rate, ranked tenth in the NFL, despite an influx of injuries at several key positions throughout the course of the season. In Ryan’s first season with the Cowboys, Ware finished second in the NFL with 19.5 sacks.
Prior to joining the Cowboys staff, Ryan served as the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 2009-10. In 2010, the Browns defense tied for eighth in the NFL with 19 interceptions, as six different players posted multiple picks to tie for the third-most players with two-or-more interceptions on a team that season. Ryan guided a pair of standout rookie defensive backs in Joe Haden who led the team in interceptions (5) and T.J. Ward, who led the Browns in tackles (105). On the ground, Cleveland allowed just seven rushing touchdowns, tied for fourth-fewest in the league. In Ryan’s first season in Cleveland, the defense did not allow a touchdown in three games and the Browns posted 40 sacks, tied for eighth in the league.
Prior to Cleveland, Ryan served five years as Oakland’s defensive coordinator from 2004-08. In 2006, the Raiders led the league in pass defense (150.8 yards-per-game) and finished third in total defense (284.8 yards-per-game). CB Nnamdi Asomugha and DE Derrick Burgess were each selected to the Pro Bowl twice during his tenure. Ryan also spent four seasons (2000-03) as the linebackers coach for the New England Patriots. In his time with the Patriots, Ryan was a part of two Super Bowl championship teams – XXXVI and XXXVIII – while working with two of the league’s top linebackers in Teddy Bruschi and Willie McGinest.
Ryan’s NFL coaching career began when he spent two seasons (1994-95) as the defensive backs coach under his father, Buddy Ryan, for the Arizona Cardinals, where they had the NFL’s third ranked defense in 1994 and led the league with 42 takeaways in 1995.
After playing three years at outside linebacker at Southwestern Oklahoma State, Ryan broke into the coaching ranks with graduate assistant jobs at Western Kentucky (1987) and Ohio State (1988). He then landed his first full-time coaching position at Tennessee State where he spent five seasons tutoring running backs, linebackers and the defensive line. Following his NFL stint with the Cardinals, Ryan spent three seasons as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
Kwan comes to New Orleans for his 23rd year as an NFL assistant. He spent the past three seasons (2010-12) as the assistant special teams coach for the Buffalo Bills, where they ranked first in the NFL last season (2012) in punt return average (17.1 avg.) with two touchdowns and were fourth-best in the league in kick-off return average (27.0 avg.). He spent ten years with the Detroit Lions (1997-2000, 2004-09), including his final three seasons in charge of the club’s special teams units and also had stints with the San Diego Chargers (1991-96) and Arizona Cardinals (2001-03). Under his guidance, the special teams units of each team Kwan has helped guide have been consistently well schooled and prepared. The Phoenix native played baseball at San Diego State for three years prior to joining the Chargers after graduation.