Sean Payton Takes a Chance on Rob Ryan, But There’s Little to Lose

The New Orleans Saints are going through big-name defensive coordinators at a startling rate. New Orleans will have its third defensive coordinator in three years in 2013, with Rob Ryan taking over for the fired Steve Spagnuolo.

On one hand, there's some concern that Sean Payton continues to hire household names and retreads. Gregg Williams' unit struggled in 2011, Spagnuolo's was drastically worse in 2012 and Ryan has tried and failed in Oakland, Cleveland and Dallas.

On the other hand, hiring Ryan indicates Payton is willing to take a chance on a guy who is considered to be a mastermind of the 3-4 defense that they're transitioning to. Payton could have gone with safer options, but he's rolling the dice. Considering that the Saints' defense has already hit rock bottom, this is the kind of gamble fans should appreciate. Ryan's known for being aggressive and the New Orleans defense is at its best when it takes the ball away. Ryan has a chance to get them back on track.

Ryan has run nine defenses during his NFL career. None of those teams have made the playoffs. None of those units have finished in the top 10 in points allowed (only one has finished in the top 15). He didn't have a lot of talent to work with in Oakland and Cleveland, but he had half a decade to get the Raiders' defense on track and made little to no progress. 

It's hard to hold his two-year stint in Dallas against him, because Ryan didn't have a proper 2011 offseason to implement his nuanced schemes and injuries ravaged that D in 2012. He was a scapegoat there.

At the very least, things will be just a little more entertaining in New Orleans this season. If that's even possible.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.