Some would say the New Orleans Saints got a gift this offseason when they landed defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. The veteran DC was unfairly put on the chopping block in Dallas, but now he’s got a new life in the Big Easy.
Part of the hiring of Ryan, is that fact that he plays a 3-4 defensive scheme. So naturally, there’s going to be an adjustment process for the returning players. One such veteran that this change is directly impacting, is none other than captain Will Smith.
Smith will now be shifting from defensive end, to outside linebacker. Head coach Sean Payton recently acknowledged the transition for the defense’s captain:
“That’s where we’ll start him. We can play him right and left, but I think initially that right outside position would be very similar to what he’s played for us in the past.”
The new OLB said that he’s getting used to being in an upright stance, but for the most part, his role will be very similar. While this is technically a position change, it’s really more of a conversion. OLB is basically the equivalent of a DE in a 3-4 such as Ryan’s.
Adjustments like this are all part of the transformation in New Orleans. I’m confident that Ryan will turn the Saints-D around, and I think we’ll see noticeable improvement after just a few games. Ryan runs a proven system, and so far, all indications are that the players have bought in.
Switching schemes is not an easy thing, but the Saints have the right man for the job to do it.
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