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Meet the New Orleans Saints coaches: Ryan Nielsen

Nielsen is entering his sixth season with New Orleans, first as co-defensive coordinator


In his sixth season in charge of the team's defensive line, Ryan Nielsen also served as an assistant head coach in 2021 and in 2022 will add co-defensive coordinator duties.

Nielsen has a history of developing players on the professional and college levels and brings abundant experience to the New Orleans defense.

Since 2017, New Orleans' 233 sacks ranked third in the league, seven defensive linemen have produced multi-sack games and the New Orleans defense went an NFL-record 55 regular season and postseason games without allowing a 100-yard rusher between the 2017-20 campaigns and has the longest current streak at 22 consecutive contests. During his tenure in New Orleans, the Saints have ranked in the top 10 in sacks four of five seasons and have finished in the top five in run defense the last four campaigns.

With the NFL's fourth ranked rush defense (93.5 yards per game) and the eighth-most sacks (46), Nielsen worked with his position group to help produce standout campaigns from longtime veterans as well as overseeing development from the team's promising young defenders. Nielsen helped defensive end Cameron Jordan earn Pro Bowl honors, as he finished the season tied for seventh in the NFL with 12.5 sacks. In the five seasons that Nielsen has served as Jordan's position coach, his 60.5 sacks are tied for third in the league over that period, with four double-digit campaigns and being selected to the Pro Bowl each season. Along with defensive end Marcus Davenport, who posted a career-high nine quarterback takedowns, the Saints were just one of seven teams to have a pair of teammates record at least nine sacks.

Ryan Nielsen coaching career

Table inside Article
TeamPosition HeldYears
USC (College)Volunteer assistant2002
Idaho (College)Administrative assistant2004
Ole Miss (College)Defensive line coach2005-07
Central Connecticut State (College)Defensive coordinator/defensive line/linebackers coach2008-09
UT Martin (College)Defensive line coach/special teams coach2010
Northern Illinois (College)Defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator2011
Northern Illinois (College)Co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator2012
N.C. State (College)Defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator2013
N.C. State (College)Defensive line coach/run game coordinator2014-16
New Orleans Saints (NFL)Defensive line coach2017-20
New Orleans Saints (NFL)Assistant head coach/defensive line coach2021
New Orleans Saints (NFL)Co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach2022-present

Take a look at defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen in action as we highlight the New Orleans Saints coaching staff on the sidelines.

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