Saints hope Ryan will turn around struggling defense

Kyle Riviere @kyleR_sports
New Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Photo by Brandon Wade/AP

The Saints are hoping that the third time's a charm with their hiring of Rob Ryan as their new defensive coordinator over the weekend. Ryan will be New Orleans' third defensive play-caller in the past three years.

During the span of those three seasons, it's been quite a saga for the Saints.

First, Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator Greg Williams was fired after he was suspended from the league due to his involvement in "Bounty Gate."

To patch up the wound, they brought in another Super Bowl-winning D-coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo. What looked to be a promising move turned into a historically-bad disaster.

Under Spagnuolo, the Saints' defense gave up more yards this year than any other unit had in NFL history.

In addition to that, they allowed the second-most points in the league. This included 11 games where they surrendered at least 27 points and three games where they gave up more than 40.

In yardage, they ranked second-to-last in pass defense and dead-last in defending the run.

Once head coach Sean Payton was officially reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he didn't waste much time letting Spagnulo go.

To fill in the vacancy, Payton and the Saints have decided to hire Ryan--the Cowboys' defensive coordinator for the past two seasons.

Ryan certainly has the pedigree. He is the son of defensive mastermind Buddy Ryan and the twin brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

He was fired by the Cowboys at the end of the year--another year where they failed to live up to their always-hightened expectations. Dallas finished just 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the third straight year.

There were a plethora of problems in "Big D"--including quarterback Tony Romo throwing 19 interceptions and having the second-to-last-ranked rushing attack in the league. So, when Ryan's defense only finished No. 19 against the run and No. 22 against the pass, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones looked for a fresh start.

He was then on the cusp of being hired by the Rams as their new defensive coordinator but after further review, head coach Jeff Fisher decided that Ryan's scheme just wasn't a good fit in St. Louis.

So, Ryan now inherits the worst statistical defense in the league. Changes surely look to be imminent. Ryan will most likely change the Saints from a 4-3 to a the 3-4 look that he ran in Dallas.

To get the players he needs to fit his system, he may look to pick guys up through free agency, and it looks to be a perfect year for the Saints when it comes to the NFL Draft.

What this year's draft class lacks in offense, it certainly makes up in defensive standouts. From top to bottom, the class is filled with guys like: Sheldon Richardson, Alec Olgletree, Damontre Moore, Jarvis Jones, Sam Montgomery and Johnthan Banks that could help the Saints immediately.

Ryan and his new-look defense will try to spark a turnaround for the Saints after a disappointing 7-9 season and absence in the playoffs for the first time in three years.