Following a disappointing 2012 season for the New Orleans Saints that was preceded by an even worse offseason, fans have plenty of reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season. Opponents, too, should take notice and be wary of a team that will be looking to make a statement and return to its winning ways in 2013.
I think you would be hard pressed to find anybody out there who is concerned about the Saints offense. Sean Payton is back in the captain’s chair, Drew Brees is still taking snaps and the rest of the offensive unit remains mostly intact from the previous years. The real unknown for 2013 is how the defensive unit will play under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Although Ryan’s defensive units from days past have achieved average success, I am optimistic about what he will be able to achieve in New Orleans for two reasons.
First of all, his time with the Dallas Cowboys saw defensive units that produced mostly average numbers. Furthermore, remember his days as the defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders following their 2003 Super Bowl appearance? I didn’t think so.
What these two situations have in common was that both teams at those times were never offensive powerhouses the way that the Saints currently are. For all their troubles and woes last season, the Saints still managed to lead the league in passing yards per game, came in second in total offensive yards per game and third in points per game. Not too shabby.
With an offense that can and will put points on the board on most of their possessions, Ryan should be able to implement his 3-4 defensive scheme and different variations without the added pressure that was present in Dallas and Oakland.
Finally, I am optimistic because of the intangible qualities and freshness that Ryan will bring to New Orleans. Being the son of Buddy Ryan, he obviously knows the game well. Maybe it’s the long hair, his cavalier attitude or his undeniable flair, but how can you not be excited to have this guy running your defense? That will resonate with the players and hopefully bring back some of that swagger that the Saints defense had from their Super Bowl run just a few years ago.
Only time can tell us how Ryan will fare in New Orleans, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be excited in the meantime.