Brian Allee-Walsh

Rob Ryan best served to keep quiet on tenure with Saints

BOB LEVERONE/ASSOCIATED PRESS 
 Former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan believes he was set up to fail by his former employer.
BOB LEVERONE/ASSOCIATED PRESS Former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan believes he was set up to fail by his former employer. AP

In light of what's happened to the last three New Orleans Saints defensive coordinators -- Gregg Williams, Steve Spagnuolo and Rob Ryan -- I can only wonder what fate awaits current DC Dennis Allen.

I ask this question in light of Ryan's curious recollection of his time spent as DC in New Orleans from 2013-15 aired in last week's MMQB - particularly the '14 season and first 10 games of the '15 season before his abrupt firing by coach Sean Payton in mid-November.

I see no reason to take sides or come to anyone's defense in this he said/he said exchange.

No one person is responsible for a Saints defense that will go down as one of the game's most inept in league history in terms of points and yards allowed. There is plenty of blame to go around, beginning with Payton as head coach, Ryan as defensive coordinator, GM Mickey Loomis as head of football operations and many of the players on the field.

All have played a role in the ongoing debacle.

Ultimately, the buck stops with Payton. He hired Ryan in February 2013, not long after firing Spagnuolo following a 2012 season sabotaged by Bounty gate. Payton allowed Ryan to continue as defensive coordinator in 2015 after a historically bad '14 season. And, it was Payton who brought Allen on staff as an insurance policy in the role of a senior defensive assistant. In hindsight, Ryan was an accident waiting to happen and Payton probably should have fired Ryan after the '14 season.

But to suggest Payton set up Ryan for failure (as Ryan would have you believe in the May 27 piece entitled "The Battling (and Babbling) Buffalo Bros" written by MMQB's Jenny Vrentas) is absurd.

That said, Ryan would have been best served to have shut his mouth, accepted his fate and moved on with his new life in Buffalo as the top defensive coach for his brother and head coach, Rex.

But Rob Ryan couldn't stay quiet. He had to set the record straight as he saw it. It was not a matter of if, but when, he would revisit his tenure in New Orleans. Quite honestly, I expected Ryan would have talked trash long before now.

What continues to puzzle me is why Payton hasn't been able to hire a similar-minded defensive coordinator to complement his prolific offense; a loyal soldier in the same vain as longtime defensive assistant Joe Vitt, who has been by Payton's side since first bursting on the scene in 2006. Vitt has been all things for Payton the past 10 years, including serving as interim head coach during Payton's season-long suspension in 2012 for his role in Bounty gate.

Little did we know that following the 2008 season Gary Gibbs would be the last defensive coordinator under Payton to go quietly into the night, the victim of an old-fashioned, every-day firing.

Since then, we have seen the extraordinary occur in Saints-ville:

-- Williams (2009-2011) ran afoul of Payton and Bounty gate after earning his stripes with a ball-hawking defense in the Super Bowl XLIV season of 2009.

-- Spagnuolo (2012) simply ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time, placed in charge of a declining defense under two interim head coaches for a franchise in total disarray.

-- And Ryan (2013-2015), well, Mr. Ready-Fire-Aim simply had to go as the frontman of a historically bad defense.

Now, I wonder what's in store for Dennis Allen in his first full season as the Saints' DC in the Big Easy.

Brian Allee-Walsh, is a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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