The New Orleans Saints‘ defensive turnaround from just a season ago is something special. I will stop short of calling it spectacular or amazing, however, as there is still a lot of time between now and the end of the season. There is plenty of room for errors and mistakes, but for the time being we can label it as something special.
Just one season removed from allowing a record-setting 7,042 yards on defense, New Orleans seems as if they have righted the ship with the return of head coach Sean Payton and the hiring of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Ryan famously quipped that he would be out of work “for like, five minutes”, and the Saints jumped at the opportunity to bring him aboard.
Heading into Week 4, Ryan and his defensive unit ranked in the top five for passing yards per game, allowing only 184.3 yards per game. They also ranked in the top five for total defense, allowing only 295.7 yards per game through their first three games. Rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro seems to be flourishing under Ryan as well. Vaccaro has played every defensive snap for the Saints, recorded his first NFL interception last week against the Arizona Cardinals and has drawn some early comparisons to future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu.
With the wonderful turnaround story that is the Saints’ defensive effort so far this year, it should come as no surprise that Ryan and his wild hair are becoming sort of a thing down in Cajun country. Google the name ‘Rob Ryan’ and the automatic word fill-in will add the word ‘hair’ to that search. Ryan’s hair also has a Facebook page, cleverly named ‘Rob Ryan’s Hair.’ His hair even comes in different looks, as there have been styles called the Farrah Fawcett, the Charleston Heston from the movie the “10 Commandments”, the Obi Wan Kenobi and many more. I have even seen a picture of a carving of Ryan and his hair made from a watermelon.
New Orleans is a great city with a very devoted and colorful fan base, so it is no surprise that the city and Saints fans are embracing him in this manner. Should they reach the playoffs this season and perhaps the Super Bowl, I imagine he would become a a bit of a folk hero to the city in the same manner that Drew Brees and Payton already have.
It’s not crazy, people. It’s football.