Oct 26, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
What will happen to New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after Sundays game in Tampa Bay is anybody’s guess. His fate is by all means already sealed regardless of the performance Sunday because of his hugely unsuccessful 2014 defense.
The blame doesn’t fall squarely on his shoulders for the woes of the season. However, his position as the highest ranking official on that side of the ball makes him the immediate figure that we could surely see fall on “Black Monday”.
In 2012, the Saints defense, led by Steve Spagnuolo, allowed an NFL worst 7,042 yards. During that time head coach Sean Payton was serving his suspension for Bountygate, and never even strolled the sidelines with Spags.
In 2013, in walks Rob Ryan, tasked with turning around the NFL’s worst defense in history. That he did! He took largely the same squad Spagnuolo had to work with and made them the 4th ranked defense in the league and a playoff contender once again.
What a difference a year makes. With the season all but finished, Ryan’s defense is one spot out of the cellar at 31st in total yards allowed, and Sean Payton could be looking to replace yet another defensive coordinator.
The difference between the Spagnuolo firing and Rob Ryan’s impending doom is the players love for their current coach. Back in 2012 players largely put on a happy face throughout the season when asked about Spags. The closer the season came to a close the more players began to speak out on the former coach and none of it was good.
Let’s take a look at some of what the current players have to say about Coach Ryan:
"Defensive Captain and linebacker Curtis Lofton says, “we all love Rob Ryan and would run through a wall” for him. Kenny Vaccaro adds, “Rob will be here.” and “Rob’s my guy. I love Rob. I’ll fight for Rob every game. I’m and Rob guy, so there’s no point in even asking me about Rob. He will ride with me until the end. Year 17 he will come get me off my couch and say, ‘come play with me.'”"
With such strong voices in the locker room supporting the struggling coach, it may be hard for Payton fire Ryan. I said before that I think he gets another year to right the ship, and I would be very surprised to see him without a job come Monday.
So where and why did it all go south you ask? First and foremost, the loss of some veteran leadership surely hurt the locker room. I truly believe it was time to part ways with safeties, Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper. The only problem with doing so is you have to be able to replace such emotional leaders, and when you can’t or don’t, it shows. Just have a look at the Saints dismal 6-9 record.
Ryan said the Saints 2014 team “drank the kool-aid” while referring to the struggles of the year. That they surely did.
With such lofty expectations following such a successful 2013 campaign, it has been as if the Saints thought they could just show up on Sunday and win. This is the NFL, not pop warner where the team with the biggest and fastest running back always wins. All of these guys are good. All of these guys are great, and when you don’t prepare and show up ready for battle, you get beat. That is exactly what has happened many more times than not this year.
Another problem is the Who Dat Nation has stroked the egos of the men on this team too much. The Saints surely have the best fans in football. There is no question. Fans need to be a little tougher on these boys going forward. To me, as a fan of the Saints, I’m about what’s best for the team winning now. You can love a player, but when his time is up in a black and gold uniform, when he can no longer perform his job that possibly someone else could do better, it’s time for that guy to move along.
Mickey Loomis would have no problem making these decisions from a business standpoint, and the fans shouldn’t have a problem with this from the standpoint of wanting championships now.
I managed to get myself Twitter blocked by three Saints players just this past week for comments on performance and salary issues. I wasn’t vulgar or nasty in any way. Just calling it as I see it. I won’t call any names, but I’m afraid it may speak to the locker room atmosphere and character when an All-Pro player messages a writer, such as myself, at 12:42 AM after such a horrible loss as Sunday’s was to the Falcons and ask him why he should be cut or traded in the offseason.
Sure, these men don’t have to listen to my opinion, but if you can’t handle the criticism I have to offer up on such a bad season, how in the hell can you handle the adversity that arises week in and week out on game day in the regular season?
It’s been a rough one by all measures, but with a few moves to free up some money in salary cap space, and some tough loving from the Who Dat Nation, the turn around can be made rather quickly.
Will coach Rob Ryan still be around after Monday? I have to say quite possibly, but all this partying and being Grand Marshall at Mardi Gras has to stop for 2015. When you see him in a bar in New Orleans, instead of a beer, give him some advice. The advice is that the fans are not happy with the way things transpired in 2014, and we would appreciate a better effort in 2015.
Who Dat for life! God Bless you all!