New Orleans Saints: Rob Ryan should be fired with loss vs Atlanta


If the New Orleans Saints suffer a loss on Thursday Night Football against their bitter rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, they should finally fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the 2015 New Orleans Saints are a bad football team in all three phases while the 2015 Atlanta Falcons are a well-organized team, playing good football on both sides of the ball and their record shows it (they are 5-0, in case you missed it).

ALSO ON SPIN ZONE: Where does Brees rank among starting QBs?

We’ve seen some strange things happen in the Saints-Falcons games over the years but I don’t really see how the Saints can win this one, even if they’re playing in the Superdome. For the sake of this article, let’s assume they lose this game. From what I’ve seen so far, they will lose this game by a large margin but that’s just my opinion.

How am I sure the Saints will lose this game, you ask? Easy. This game will present one of the worst mismatches you will ever see: Atlanta’s offensive line, one of the best units in the entire league right now, vs New Orleans’ defensive line, a group of inexperienced players that can’t neither stop the run nor put pressure on opposing QBs. Enough said.

More from New Orleans Saints

Ryan has been with the Saints since 2013, his best season in New Orleans by far. In 2013 Ryan was able to put on the field a top-10 defensive unit but failed miserably to repeat himself the next year and at the beginning of this season too. Ryan’s defenses had always been average at best in his previous years with the Oakland Raiders (2004-2008), the Cleveland Browns (2009-2010) and the Dallas Cowboys (2011-2012).

He seemed to have put it together when he joined the Saints but ultimately his mediocrity showed up and if you combine that with lack of talent on defense (a lots of veterans like Jonathan Vilma, Jabari Greer and many others left the team in the last few seasons) and bad drafts you get results like this: according to Pro Football Focus the New Orleans Saints had the 2nd-worst defense in the league in 2014, allowing 384 yards per game (2nd-highest in the league) and 424 total points (5th-highest in the league).

This season Ryan managed to improve…nothing. ranks the Saints dead-last in total defense as they’re allowing a league-high 409 yards per game. Last Sundays’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles was the perfect depiction of this defense: penalties, missed tackles, missed assignments and players out of position as they were able to revitalize an Eagles’ offense that hadn’t been able to produce anything over the first four weeks of the season. Even DeMarco Murray looks like a good football player.

Add to all that his shaky (to say the least) relationship with Sean Payton and it’s easy to see why I believe Ryan will be fired really soon. Payton and Ryan have been caught on camera yelling at each other multiple times during games since last year’s devastating loss to the Cleveland Browns. As late as last Sunday in Philly, they were at it again:

That’s it, guys. The timing would be perfect, as another embarrassing defensive performance should be enough for the Saints’ front office to decide they’ve had enough of Rob Ryan. Ryan’s replacement would have a few more days to settle in as the Saints will have a “long week” to prepare for the next game against the Indianapolis Colts on the road after the TNF game.

Who could replace Ryan? Don’t look too far. I think the Saints could stay in-house and promote secondary coach/defensive assistant Dennis Allen to the defensive coordinator role in order to give the players some continuity.

Aug 22, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, center, with defensive coaches Rob Ryan and Dennis Allen in the second half against the New England Patriots at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Patriots won, 26-24.Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Allen, a defensive coach for the Saints from 2006-2010, was hired by the Denver Broncos as their defensive coordinator in 2011 and just a year later he joined the Oakland Raiders as the head coach, going 8-28 in two years and getting fired early in the season in 2014.

Clearly he wasn’t ready for a head coaching gig so he decided to take a step back and start again from what he knows best in a place he’s familiar with: coaching the defense in New Orleans.

Is Dennis Allen the answer to the Saints’ defensive woes? Who knows. Probably not, that’s not enough to right the ship at this point but Rob Ryan has shown that he is not the answer either so the Saints need at least to try something and make a change as soon as possible and the Allen way seems to be the most reasonable way to go at the moment.

Next: Saints: is Drew Brees to blame?

More from NFL Spin Zone