Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Formula One 2014: Complete schedule, standings, driver info
The New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, centre, is well regarded within the NFL for his tactical nous. Sean Gardner / Reuters
The New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, centre, is well regarded within the NFL for his tactical nous. Sean Gardner / Reuters
The New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, centre, is well regarded within the NFL for his tactical nous. Sean Gardner / Reuters

NFL: Rob Ryan looks a rebel with a cause at New Orleans Saints

From his long, grey hair flaring out of the back of his hat to his periodic brash statements, Rob Ryan presents himself as a renegade who does things his own way and does not care what anyone else thinks.

NEW ORLEANS // From his long, grey hair flaring out of the back of his hat to his periodic brash statements, Rob Ryan presents himself as a renegade who does things his own way and does not care what anyone else thinks.

Yet those who have been around the New Orleans Saints' new defensive coordinator for a while do not necessarily see him that way.

As Ryan aims to turn around a unit that allowed an NFL-record 7,042 yards last season, he has brainstormed with players, who cite his willingness to listen to their ideas among his attributes, and say they appreciate being consulted.

"He's always worried about: How do we feel about this? How do we like this look? And if we don't like something, say something," Roman Harper, the defensive back, said after practice this week.

"He understands that we play the game and if we're not comfortable, then it's not going to work."

Even his hairstyle is not entirely of his own making.

"Who are we kidding? The wife likes it long," he said.

Ryan learnt defence and much of what he knows about football from his father, Buddy Ryan, who won Super Bowls as a defensive coach with New York Jets and Chicago Bears.

Ryan said he and his brother, Rex, the coach of the Jets, work closely with players because of their father's influence.

"I've only been in the league 16 years," Ryan began, somewhat sarcastically, "But I've been around it my whole life.

"The greatest defensive coach that ever coached is my dad. I watched how he was and the biggest thing he told me and my brother is: 'Be yourself'," Ryan said.

"We know we're good and we're confident, but we're smart and we don't mind sharing anything."

Ryan spent the past two seasons in Dallas, where his defences ranked in the middle of the league in yards allowed 14th in 2011 and 18th in 2012. He was fired after last season, but was not out of work long.

Sean Payton, the Saints coach, looking to change his team's scheme from a 4-3 alignment (four linemen, three linebackers) to a 3-4, hired Ryan in early February. Ryan, 50, has run 3-4 schemes for years. He worked as a linebacker coach in such defences in New England, where he was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams. He then spent five seasons as defensive coordinator in Oakland, beginning in 2004, followed by two seasons in Cleveland before moving to Dallas in 2011.

Ryan's players praise his passionate, fun-loving and aggressive approach to coaching defence.

Ryan said one of the keys to sustaining his NFL coaching career is being secure enough in himself to take advice from his players.

"The better teacher you are, the more input you can handle," Ryan said. "I don't have a dictatorship in my room. I think open forum is good when everybody knows what they're talking about. I've always done that. It doesn't make it right, but it is who I am. I just want it to look right on Sundays."

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 UAE rugby player Adam Telford, right, catches the ball during a Test match against Singapore at The Sevens ground in Dubai on Wednesday. UAE lost the Asian 5 Nations match 30-13 to be relegated to the third tier of Asian rugby. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: UAE rugby in action against Singapore

Images from the Asian Five Nations Test for UAE rugby against Singapore on Wednesday night at The Sevens ground in Dubai.

 Ravindra Jadeja of Chennai Super Kings playing a shot in their Indian Premier League win over Rajasthan Royals at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Jadeja scored 36 runs not out from 33 balls. Pawan Singh / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Chennai Super Kings notch win behind do-everything Jadeja

Images from Wednesday night's Indian Premier League match in Dubai, where Ravindra Jadeja led Chennai Super Kings over Rajasthan Royals.

 Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates scoring the opening goal in the Champions League semi-final first leg match against Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday in Madrid, Spain. Martin Rose / Bongarts / Getty Images / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Benzema propels Real Madrid over Bayern Munich

Images from Real Madrid's 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

 Chris Gayle has been the most feared batsman in the Royal Challengers Bangalore line-up since he joined the team in 2011. Indranil Mukherjee / AFP

Parthiv continues to fill Gayle’s big shoes for Bangalore

Indian wicketkeeper-batsman will continue to open the innings for Royal Challengers with the West Indian still nursing his bad back, writes Paul Radley.

 Dana Shamlawi pulls a 4x4 car during the final day of the UAE Strongman Competition in Dubai. Delores Johnson / The National

UAE Strongman Competition takes weight training to a whole new scale

Two-day competition in Dubai attracts men and women from across the Emirates and proves it takes more than just bulky muscles to win, writes Ali Khaled.

 UAE’s Charlie Sargent tries to avoid a tackle by Singapore team members during the one-off Division 1 Test at The Sevens. The Singapore-born winger was making his debut. Sarah Dea / The National

Asian Five Nations: UAE go into rebuilding mode in Division 2

With a new look squad, including five emerging Emirati players, the UAE will hope to restructure and get into the winning habit in more forgiving climes when they drop a level in the revamped competition next season.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National