METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan says his verbal commitment to take a job in St. Louis was made hastily while he was still upset over his firing in Dallas.
Ryan said he backed out because he owed it to himself and his family to make sure he found the best fit for his style as a coach.
“It was kind of a complicated thing. I think getting fired in Dallas was a shock to my system,” Ryan said Friday.
“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.
“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,” Ryan continued, referring to the Rams.
“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.”
Ryan, who has generally coached 3-4 fronts (three down linemen, four linebackers), noted that the Rams were using more of a 4-3, “so I 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, wait for the perfect opportunity to come, because I knew I was going to get one,” Ryan continued. “Wherever it was going to be, I was going to get one because I believe in myself.”
Ryan noted that he had jumped between defensive coordinator jobs in Oakland, Cleveland and Dallas during the past half-decade, and thought his next move needed to be one that he believed had the potential to last a while.
“I’ve moved my family. ... I wanted the perfect situation. I wanted to coach a defense that I’m an expert at, and I know I’m damn good,” Ryan said. “I wanted to do the best job I could do. I was tired of moving around every single year, every two years.”
Ryan said joining the Saints staff was something that interested him from the moment he learned by phone, while vacationing in the Turks and Caicos islands — that he’d been fired by Dallas.
He said the first call he made was to his brother, in which he described Dallas’ decision to fire him as “a joke,” and then called current Chicago offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who was then New Orleans’ offensive line coach and running game coordinator.
He asked Kromer if he could talk to head coach Sean Payton about his plans for the defensive staff after its unit had yielded a record 7,042 yards in 2012.
But Kromer told him no one in the NFL could talk to Payton at the time because the Saints head coach was still suspended in connection with the NFL’s bounty probe.
“This is the situation I was dreaming of,” Ryan said. “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 ... this place has been fantastic for us.”
So far, it appears Ryan has made a good choice. New Orleans’ defense is no longer a laughing stock of the NFL.
It ranks sixth in the league, giving up 313.6 yards and 18.7 points per game through 13 games this season, compared to 440.1 yards and 28.4 points per game all of last season under Steve Spagnuolo, who came to New Orleans in 2012 after being fired as head coach in St. Louis.
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