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Rob Ryan

Rob Ryan enters his third season as the Saints defensive coordinator in 2015. 

Ryan is a coaching veteran with 27 years of coaching experience, 16 in the NFL. Now in his 17th NFL season, he has also served stints as a defensive coordinator with the Oakland Raiders (2004-08), Cleveland Browns (2009-10) and Dallas Cowboys (2011-12) and has four years of experience heading up defenses at the collegiate level.

Rob Ryan enters his third season as the Saints defensive coordinator in 2015.

Last year, the Saints defense was led by a combination of youth and experience. Early on, Ryan had to adjust to the loss of three-time Pro Bowl S Jairus Byrd to a season-ending knee injury and several other members of the secondary were sidelined. However a combination of veterans and younger players showed promise.

ILB Curtis Lofton was a rock in the middle of the defense, recording a franchise-record and career-high 185 tackles, while adding eight passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. CB Keenan Lewis, often lined up against an opponent’s top receiver, finished with two interceptions and a team-high 13 passes defensed. DE Cameron Jordan filled the stat sheet with 7.5 sacks, giving him 20 takedowns in two seasons, while adding an interception, five passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

In 2013, New Orleans finished fourth in the NFL in total defense – a 28-spot improvement from 2012. Giving up just 305.7 net yards per game compared to 440.1 in 2012, the 134.4-yard-average improvement was the biggest since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Despite ending the year with eight starters or significant contributors on injured reserve, the Saints ranked in the top-10 in many defensive categories, including sacks (fourth), pass defense (second), scoring defense (fourth), third down conversion percentage (ninth), touchdown passes surrendered (sixth), yards after the catch (second) and big passing plays allowed (fifth).

An integral part of the defense’s success were the additions of Lewis, who led the club with four interceptions, and safety Kenny Vaccaro, the club’s first round draft pick, who earned PFWA All-Rookie honors after leading the secondary with 93 tackles. New Orleans also registered 49 sacks, and Jordan and outside linebacker Junior Galette led the charge as they became the first Saints tandem to record double-digit takedowns since 2004. Jordan ranked fifth in the NFL with a career-high 12.5 sacks, tied for sixth with two defensive fumble recoveries and was selected to his first Pro Bowl, while Galette added a career-high 12 sacks, to rank sixth, and two fumble recoveries.

Ryan is a coaching veteran with 27 years of coaching experience, 16 in the NFL. Now in his 17th NFL season, he has also served stints as a defensive coordinator with the Oakland Raiders (2004-08), Cleveland Browns (2009-10) and Dallas Cowboys (2011-12) and has four years of experience heading up defenses at the collegiate level.

Under his tutelage in 2011, Dallas’ team defense improved to 14th overall in the NFL and seventh against the run after finishing 23rd in the 2010 opponent net yardage rankings. In his first season as a starting middle linebacker in 2011, second-year pro Sean Lee paced the team with 131 tackles while Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman tied for the team lead with four interceptions each.  In 2012, the Cowboys were one of only three teams in the NFL to have two players with 11 or more sacks, as linebacker DeMarcus Ware led the team with 11.5 and linebacker Anthony Spencer posted a career-high 11 takedowns. Both players were selected to the Pro Bowl. It was also Ware’s seventh consecutive season leading or tying for the team lead in sacks and his seventh straight with double-digit takedown totals. Cowboys opponents were held to a 43.9% third down conversion rate, ranked tenth in the NFL, despite an influx of injuries at several key positions throughout the course of the season. In Ryan’s first season with the Cowboys, Ware finished second in the NFL with 19.5 sacks.

In 2010 Cleveland tied for eighth in the NFL with 19 interceptions. Ryan’s work saw six different players post multiple interceptions on the season to tie for the third-most players with two-or-more interceptions on a team that season. Rookie defensive back Joe Haden led the team, tied for fifth in the NFL and second among rookies with six interceptions. Also among Ryan’s secondary was the club’s leading tackler in T.J. Ward. Ward became the first Cleveland rookie to lead the team in tackles since 1999. On the ground, Cleveland allowed just seven rushing touchdowns which tied for the fourth-fewest in the league. In Ryan’s first season in Cleveland, the club did not allow a touchdown in three games - the most contests in which a Browns defense did not yield a touchdown since 2003. Ryan’s defense posted 40 sacks to tie for eighth in the league and the most for a Cleveland defense since racking up 43 in 2001. Over the second half of the season, the Browns saw a significant improvement as they yielded less points allowed (-5.3 ppg.), total yards allowed (-39.9 ypg.), rushing yards allowed (-52.0 ypg.), first downs allowed (-2.7) and increased their sack production (1.0 spg.).

Before landing in Cleveland, Ryan spent five seasons as Oakland’s coordinator. In his time guiding the fortunes of the Raiders defense, Ryan tutored a pair of Pro Bowlers in defensive end Derrick Burgess and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. In his four seasons playing for Ryan, Burgess amassed 38.5 sacks, including an NFL-best 16.0 in 2005. Asomugha finished 2006 third in the league with eight interceptions. In that same season, the Raiders defense led the league in pass defense (150.8 ypg.) and ranked third in total defense (284.8 ypg). For his work in 2006, Ryan was named the USA Today All-Joe Coordinator of the Year.

Ryan spent four seasons (2000-03) as the linebackers coach for Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. In his time with the Patriots, Ryan was a part of two Super Bowl championship teams – XXXVI and XXXVIII - while working with one of the league’s top linebackers in Teddy Bruschi. He also mentored 2003 Pro Bowl linebacker Willie McGinest.

Ryan began his NFL coaching career in 1994 as the defensive backs coach under his father, Buddy, for the Arizona Cardinals. In his first season in Arizona, the Cardinals boasted the NFL’s third ranked defense. Under Rob, cornerback Aeneas Williams earned two trips to the Pro Bowl (1994 and 1995) and the Cardinals led the league with 42 takeaways in 1995.

Following a one-year stint as defensive coordinator at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College (1996), Ryan was Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator from 1997-99 where the Cowboys’ defense continually ranked among the best in the nation. He was named Coordinator of the Year by The Sporting News in 1997. In 1999, Oklahoma State ranked 10th in the nation in total defense, and in 1998 were second in the nation with 41 sacks.

Ryan entered the coaching ranks in 1987 as a graduate assistant with Western Kentucky. He assumed similar responsibilities at Ohio State in 1988. He then spent five seasons (1989-93) at Tennessee State where he coached running backs (1989-91), linebackers (1992) and the defensive line (1993).

Ryan spent two years at outside linebacker with Southwestern Oklahoma State. His twin brother, Rex, is the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Their father, Buddy, coached in the NFL for 26 years, serving as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. He was an assistant on three different teams to make the Super Bowl (New York Jets, Chicago, Minnesota), capturing championships with the Jets and the Bears.

PLAYING CAREER: Southwestern Oklahoma State, 1981-82.

COACHING CAREER: Western Kentucky, 1987; Ohio State, 1988; Tennessee State, 1989-93; Arizona Cardinals, 1994-95; Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, 1996; Oklahoma State, 1997-99; New England Patriots, 2000-03; Oakland Raiders, 2004-08; Cleveland Browns 2009-10; Dallas Cowboys, 2011-12; New Orleans Saints, 2013-.

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