Ryan ushered Williams’ defense out of the building
I have a hard time taking someone seriously when they say the following: “I am great.”
That’s what former Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan told Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback.
Ryan was defending his stay in New Orleans. In the story, he said the reason the Saints defense rapidly declined after the 2013 season was a change in scheme.
He did say it was his fault for not addressing the issue with Saints head coach Sean Payton. Payton, according to Pro Football Talk, called Ryan’s claims “silly.”
Frankly, I was shocked that Payton hired Ryan, period. Think about it. Payton has clashed with two defensive coordinators in his 10 seasons coaching the Saints. They are Ryan and Gregg Williams.
While Williams is a far better coach than Ryan, the two have one thing in common: egos as big as Alaska.
That’s why Dennis Allen is a perfect fit as the Saints defensive coordinator. Allen is a pro. He works hard, stays in the background and coaches up his players. He is a perfect fit for Payton, the unquestioned kingpin of the Saints organization.
When Ryan was fired, Allen took over for the last six games. The results were hit and miss. The Saints allowed 41 points at home to Carolina but also held Atlanta and Tampa Bay to 17 points each in road victories.
Allen’s handprints on the Saints defense are already evident. The Saints brought in veteran middle linebacker James Laurinaitis from the Rams to be the defensive quarterback. That was a move about being steady and sure, which is what Allen is all about.
In the meantime, Payton deserves more than his share of blame for the Saints’ defensive woes. After all, Payton is the boss, and the boss signed off on the signing of safety Jairus Byrd, using a second-round pick on cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste and letting Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins walk in free agency.
And, the boss also clashed with Williams, who is, by miles and miles, the best assistant coach Payton ever hired.
Williams, a polarizing figure if there ever was one, could get guys to believe in themselves like no other.
Go back and look at some video of the Saints playing defense in 2009. They were talented and played with an edge.
Great coaches can take players where they can’t take themselves, and that was Williams with the Saints. Many Saints fans will remember Williams only for the defensive collapse at the end of a January 2012 playoff loss at San Francisco.
Four years later, fans are still asking why Williams was blitzing late in the fourth quarter when a more conservative call would have surely won the game.
My answer is the same now as it was then: Because that’s who Gregg Williams is.
Whether you believe Ryan or Payton in the current flap, we can all, I think, agree on this.
Since Williams left the building, the Saints’ defense has, for the most part, done the same.