New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan
Post-Practice Media Availability
Friday, December 13, 2013
Can you take us back through the time period where St. Louis came, and then all of the sudden you decided to end up not staying there and coming here?
"It was kind of a complicated thing. I think getting fired in Dallas was a shock to my system and I was a little pissed off. I took a job with the Rams; hadn't had anything signed. Just from being there and finding out the direction of how they wanted to do things, it was my obligation not only to me, but to them, to just walk away and look for something different."
And you didn't know what opportunities might be out there at that time?
"No. I've been in the business long enough. I've moved my family – this is going to be what really came into my decision was – this is going to be my fourth stop in five years. Whatever it was, to me I wanted the perfect situation. I wanted to coach a defense that I'm an expert at, and I know I'm damn good. But I wanted to do the best job I could do. I was tired of moving around every single year, every two years. In this business you've got to be fully in. You're either all in or you're not. For me, I'm an all the way in coach. No one is going to work longer than I do. I'm going to prepare as hard as I can. With that situation, I don't think I can fully commit to something that wasn't exactly what I believed in, despite having great people in the building. They have Jeff Fisher, who has been a friend of my family. We love him, we respect him. He's a great coach. They've got some of the best defensive coaches there, (like) Dave McGinnis. The second-best defensive line coach next to Bill Johnson in Mike Waufle. There were a lot of great things there. The scheme fit was more of a 4-3, so it just didn't get the right vibe. I thought to myself – I was mad already about the Dallas situation- that, you know what, this is the best thing for me to do and for them for me to walk away (and) wait for the perfect opportunity to come because I knew I was going to get one. Wherever it was going to be, I was going to get one because I believe in myself. Then whatever it was, a week/two weeks later I got the call to come interview here. This is the situation I was dreaming of."
Right around the same time you agreed to go to St. Louis, they made a move here. Did that not trickle into your brain that maybe you'd like to come work here?
"I'm not sure when that move was made, but absolutely this is the job I wanted. The first thing when I got fired on a phone call in Turks and Caicos, the first thing I did was call my brother and say, 'What the hell happened here? This is a joke.' Then the second call I made was to Aaron Kromer saying, 'Hey man. I don't know what's going to happen there, but can you talk to Sean (Payton)?' Well he couldn't; nobody could. So I was like, 'Damn.' Because that would be the perfect spot for me. And I'll be damned, it ended up being here. It's been great for me and my family. When you move that much, you've got to take your family into consideration and, hell, this place has been fantastic for us."
You have clinched your first winning season as a defensive coordinator. Obviously you have higher goals than that, but did you take a moment to enjoy that at all?
"Well, as a coordinator. Not counting the ones in college. But yeah, I mean the bottom line is that I'll take on challenges. All through my career, the highest (ranked) defense I ever took over was 31st in the league…I think there's only 32 teams. It doesn't really matter. I'm not scared of a challenge. My record speaks for itself, but I've done a great job wherever I've been."
When you look at 13 games last year and thirteen games this year, I know you weren't here last year but, 131 fewer points this year, 16 fewer touchdowns, 1,600 fewer yards. That was obviously the goal, but how attainable did you feel like that would've been attainable when this all started?
"Well we still don't have a thing with yards in our room on defense. We just have a couple of signs, that's it, that our coaches put together. Trust me, this defense is playing well, but we know we can play better. One thing is, I know we're really well-coached. We have Joe Vitt, Bill Johnson. I mean these guys were here through it all, and they've been tremendous. They've been fantastic. You see the fundamentals. Our guys preach the fundamentals. We do things right. We're not a very highly-penalized defense. We tackle well. A lot of that is, besides our excellent talent that we have, is that we have some damn good coaches. This isn't a dictatorship at all. Everybody has a say on our staff on defense. Everybody's together, and we're just trying to be a little tiny part of our success here with the Saints."
You have coached your share of pass-rushing tandems. Where do Junior Galette and Cam Jordan stack up?
"Those guys are great. It's the one thing, I knew they would be. The sky is the limit for those guys. I think we're getting real good push inside, which helps them a lot. These are two young great players to walk into a situation (with). When we've got a team in the direction Sean points us in, it's pretty easy to develop good young talent like that, and our guys are doing a great job."
What kind of growth have you seen lately out of Kenny Vaccaro's coverage skills?
"The thing with Kenny…To me, the best free safety in the league is that kid (Earl) Thomas in Seattle, but the best safety in the league that does everything is Kenny. He can cover receivers, he covers tight ends by himself, (and) he makes tackles. You don't see guys tackling like this guys does, I mean he tackles. He can do everything. He's really smart. We put him in all of these multiple positions because he can handle it. We got a special guy there, and he's a special player. He's as good as anybody in this league, and he's a rookie so he's only getting better. Does he have a special talent to be able to cover people? There's no question he does. Does he love the game? Probably more than any young player I've seen come out in a long time. This guy is going to be fantastic for a long time."
How much has Corey White grown since he was kind of thrust into the starting role?
"Corey is a real ascending player. We saw that coming in. We did a lot of things, different packages, just to get the young man on the field. Now he's out there in a full-time basis and he's having good success. Again, there's a young player who's going to get better and better."