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Meet the New Orleans Saints coaches: Ryan Nielsen

Nielsen is entering his fifth season with New Orleans 


Ryan Nielsen is in his fifth season as New Orleans' defensive line coach, adding assistant head coach duties to his responsibilities. He has a history of developing players on the professional and college levels and brings abundant experience to the position. Since 2017, New Orleans' 187 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 during the 2017-20 campaigns.

In 2020, Nielsen guided a defensive line that saw defensive end Trey Hendrickson enjoy a breakout season with 13.5 sacks, tied for second in the league as he received PFWA All-NFL honors. Defensive end Cameron Jordan posted 7.5 sacks and also served as a solid run defender for the league's fourth-ranked rush defense both in yards per game and yards per rush, as he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth consecutive year. In the middle, defensive tackle David Onyemata enjoyed a breakout campaign with 6.5 takedowns and one interception. Second-year defensive end Carl Granderson made a significant contribution with five takedowns, four in the season's last five weeks.

In 2019, New Orleans ranked third in the NFL with 51 sacks with 38.5 of them coming from the defensive line. New Orleans also ranked fourth in the NFL in opponent yards rushing per game (91.3). Jordan was again instrumental in the defense's success as he tallied a career-high 15.5 sacks, ranked third in the NFL and collected one more takedown in the postseason. Jordan was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive season, as an Associated Press second-team All-Pro for the second straight campaign. Marcus Davenport, in his second season, finished second on the team with six sacks and Hendrickson added a 4.5 takedowns.

Ryan Nielsen coaching career

Table inside Article
Team Position Held Years
USC (College) Volunteer assistant 2002
Idaho (College) Administrative assistant 2004
Ole Miss (College) Defensive line coach 2005-07
Central Connecticut State (College) Defensive coordinator/defensive line 2008-09
UT Martin (College) Defensive line coach/special teams coach 2010
Northern Illinois (College) Defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator 2011
Northern Illinois (College) Co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator 2012
N.C. State (College) Defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator 2013
N.C. State (College) Defensive line coach/run game coordinator 2014-16
New Orleans Saints (NFL) Defensive line coach 2017-20
New Orleans Saints (NFL) Assistant head coach/defensive line coach 2021-present

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