Saints hire Rob Ryan to be defensive coordinator

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Rob Ryan’s five minutes of unemployment lasted four weeks, but he’s now the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints.

When Ryan became one of the fall guys for the Dallas Cowboys’ failed season, he said he wasn’t worried about losing his job because “I’ll be out of work for like five minutes.” That was Jan. 8, when the Cowboys announced they were changing directions with their defensive unit and fired him.

Now Ryan, brother of Jets Coach Rex Ryan and son of former Bears defensive coordinator and Eagles coach Buddy Ryan, will try to help Coach Sean Payton rebuild the Saints into a Super Bowl contender again.


“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, 50, said in a statement. “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, who was suspended this last season in the wake of the Saints’ bounty program, and Ryan have a big task ahead of them. The Saints gave up an NFL-record 7,042 yards last season. When Payton returned from his suspension he fired Steve Spagnuola as coordinator and said he planned to change the defense from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 alignment.

Ryan, who was with the Cowboys for two seasons after stops in Oakland and Cleveland, specializes in running 3-4 defenses. He was also the linebackers coach in New England when the Patriots won two Super Bowls. He took a defense that was ranked 31st in a 32-team league and guided it to 19th in the NFL last season.

The Saints won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season, 31-17 over the Indianapolis Colts, with Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator. Williams was suspended indefinitely following an NFL investigation that blamed him for the Saints’ bounty program. He was reinstated last week and the Tennessee Titans immediately hired him as defensive coordinator.


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