After having been what some would say unfairly dismissed from his position as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys following the 2012 NFL season, Rob Ryan quipped that he would be out of work “for like, five minutes.” It was not long after his dismissal and Sean Payton returning the the New Orleans Saints following his year-long suspension that Payton hired Ryan to fix what was wrong with New Orleans’ defense.
Fast forward to the 2013 season, and the hiring of Ryan in the defensive coordinator position has ranked right up there with the signing of Drew Brees, the drafting of Jimmy Graham and the free agent acquisition of Darren Sproles in terms of smart decision-making. After giving up a record 7,042 yards to opposing offenses in 2012, Ryan came in to New Orleans and helped right the ship, giving the Saints one of the better defenses in the league.
Ryan found a way to use rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro, employing him in almost every defensive snap before he was lost for the season with an ankle injury in Week 16. Third-year defensive end Cameron Jordan, who made his first Pro Bowl, also found a home in Ryan’s defensive schemes, leading the Saints with 12.5 sacks alongside Junior Galette, who compiled 12 himself.
However, Ryan and his defensive unit will now go up against another schemer in Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly brought with him an uptempo offense that makes use of the no-huddle offense and personnel changes. ESPN’s Mike Triplett is calling this matchup an “uptempo chess match” between Ryan and Kelly, so it should be interesting to watch at the very least.
Ryan found a new home that loves him and his flair in New Orleans, and he is also looking for his first win as a defensive coordinator in about a decade. Would there be a better way for him to repay a city that has thrown so much love his way than by masterminding a strong defensive showing against Philadelphia? I think not.