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Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again ... Unlike the previous year, this time the Saints were sending big names away instead of bringing them in. Starting tight end Jimmy Graham was traded to the ...

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Old 06-09-2015, 11:02 AM   #1
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Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

...
Unlike the previous year, this time the Saints were sending big names away instead of bringing them in. Starting tight end Jimmy Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a first-round pick and Max Unger. Kenny Stills and Ben Grubbs were traded away after getting on the wrong side of quarterback Drew Brees, according to the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley.

Importantly, those three moves took away from the offense, giving the Saints extra equity to invest in their defense. The Saints defense was the biggest reason for their failure to reach the playoffs last year.

In 2014, the unit was one of the worst in the league both in terms of raw and advanced statistics.
...
Ryan is under pressure to save his own job, but he's also under pressure because the Saints desperately need their defense to at least be average in 2015 to return to the playoffs.

It appears that the Saints are using a two-pronged approach with their most notable defensive coaches. According to Joel Erickson of The Advocate, Allen will work with the secondary, leaving Ryan to focus on fixing the front seven.

The front seven will be a major key to fixing a run defense that was the worst in the NFL last year in DVOA by Football Outsiders. Most of the blame for that ranking can be shifted onto the linebacking corps.

Akiem Hicks, Broderick Bunkley and Cameron Jordan are carryover defensive linemen who all played well against the run last year. Bunkley and Hicks are decent players, but Jordan is the real star of the unit. That was reflected by the five-year extension worth $60 million that he recently signed.

Jordan is one of the most versatile front seven pieces in the NFL. He has the explosiveness and power to be an expert pass-rusher off the edge, but he also has the size, balance and awareness to line up between the tackles as a high-quality run defender.



On this play, Jordan is lined up just a shade inside of the Cincinnati Bengals left tackle. This 4-3 front essentially lines Jordan up as a 3-4 defensive end. He is enclosed on both sides, but there is significant space between he and both defenders next to him.

Jordan is going to be isolated with Andrew Whitworth, the Bengals left tackle who is one of the best overall offensive linemen in the whole league.



Both Jordan and Whitworth are quick off the snap. However, Whitworth is attempting to advance to engage the defensive lineman, while Jordan is following the left guard who is pulling across the formation. Whitworth is throwing his inside shoulder toward Jordan to try to overpower him.

Even though the left tackle gets a good hit on Jordan, he has sacrificed his footwork to do so. This allows Jordan to push through Whitworth's inside shoulder after showing off the strength to absorb his initial hit. This play highlights Jordan's relatively rare mixture of strength, balance and quickness.

Whitworth would have expected to have won against most defensive linemen on this play because they would either succumb to his initial hit or lack the athleticism to carry across the field.


Jordan isn't your typical defensive lineman. He is able to pull Whitworth with him before making a technically sound tackle that prevents the running back from advancing past the line of scrimmage. These are the types of plays that the Saints can reasonably expect from him on a regular basis.

Bunkley and Hicks aren't as dynamic as Jordan, but both can hold their positioning against blocks and eat up space on the inside.

The defensive line should give the linebackers adequate support against the run, but there are more questions at the second level than there are answers.
...
According to NFL Media's Albert Breer, Galette may miss the whole season with a torn pectoral muscle. He is a limited overall player, but he offered a proven pass-rushing threat off the edge. Without Galette, more will be expected from the two rookies. Hau'oli Kikaha was a second-round pick in the draft, and Davis Tull was selected in the fifth round.

It's unrealistic to expect anything from Tull, but Kikaha has the kind of skill set that could translate instantly to the professional level.

Credit: Draftbreakdown.com

Kikaha is a technically sound and versatile pass-rusher who proved his worth at the college level as a key piece for the Washington defense. However, he fell in the draft because of medical concerns with his knees and question marks about his athleticism.

Injuries hit the team's defensive backs hard last season, but it would be unfair to completely blame their poor play on injuries because of how the unit played when healthy early in the year.

Part of his failure was a result of his own play, and part was a result of how he was used.

Credit: FootballOutsiders, NFL.com

Byrd's performance issues within his role saw him miss too many tackles in space and make some bad reads of the offense in coverage. However, he was set up to fail by Ryan who consistently used him, and the rest of the secondary, in illogical alignments.


The Saints will be hoping that Allen's attention to detail can improve the play of the secondary over Ryan's less detail-oriented approach.

Each of Byrd, Vaccaro and Brandon Browner appear set to start for the Saints in 2015. While it may be unfair to label Byrd and Vaccaro as narrow-skill set players, all three are players who need to be used in specific ways to maximize their impact and mask their flaws.

In Byrd and Vaccaro, the Saints have a defined strong and free safety. Vaccaro is better suited to play closer to the line of scrimmage, while Byrd is a deep-lying specialist.

Both players are veterans at this stage, but they need to prove their quality after the disappointment of 2014. Byrd obviously didn't play well before being injured, while Vaccaro remained healthy but was eventually benched for failing to execute in his role.

With Rafael Bush offering more versatility as a third safety, Allen should find ways to play to both players' strengths.

Browner won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots last season. He proved to be an important part of their secondary, but only because Bill Belichick used him the way he needs to be used. Browner isn't a fluid or quick-footed athlete who can play in all kinds of coverages and match up to all kinds of receivers.

He needs to be aligned in press coverage, mostly on the outside, against bigger, linear athletes who he can initiate contact with early in routes.

It's hugely important that Allen understands this and only matches Browner up against receivers who won't expose his flaws. The Patriots were able to do this with great regularity because they had the versatility of Darrelle Revis and the coverage quality of Devin McCourty.

Per the Times-Picayune's Katherine Terrell, Browner was one of many players who highlighted Allen's awareness of each individual's skill set recently:

It's awesome. He's a very detailed guy. That's always big, someone who emphasizes the details and won't let you slack in your technique. That makes you a better football player. You need both of them [Ryan and Allen]. The guy who's going to keep it loose and the guy who's going to work on the details and finer things, which D.A. does....

Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again | Bleacher Report

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Old 06-09-2015, 01:55 PM   #2
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

You can score all you want. If you can't stop anyone, what good is it.
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:06 PM   #3
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

Dennis Allen is the key i hope to get Robs defense going
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:15 PM   #4
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

Good article.

Plenty of question marks still surround this team but I feel like we at least have the right players and mind set to win games.

Side note: a great name for a band would be "Rob Ryan and the Illogical Alignments"
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:24 PM   #5
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

Good article. BUT duh!
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:37 PM   #6
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

Originally Posted by saintsfan1976 View Post
Good article.

Plenty of question marks still surround this team but I feel like we at least have the right players and mind set to win games.

Side note: a great name for a band would be "Rob Ryan and the Illogical Alignments"
True, but as the article pointed out, a lot of the problems were scheme more so than personnel.

I think that is the primary key to prolonged success. We still have the most talented team in Saints history. Its not so much talent as it is coaching. Thats a much easier fix than a team void of talent.

The addition of Dennis Allen may be even bigger than most of us think. And most of us already think its big.
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Old 06-09-2015, 09:17 PM   #7
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

Said this on another thread...

Starting to see how Payton sees value in Ryan...

Dennis Allen is Assistant Head Coach to salvage, teach Ryan how to be a better coach...

Interpersonal communication skills, organizational skills, planning and implementation, all of it...

This works, I think this is another great achievement for Payton...

That's how I see it...
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Old 06-09-2015, 10:22 PM   #8
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

Originally Posted by Danno View Post
True, but as the article pointed out, a lot of the problems were scheme more so than personnel.

I think that is the primary key to prolonged success. We still have the most talented team in Saints history. Its not so much talent as it is coaching. Thats a much easier fix than a team void of talent.

The addition of Dennis Allen may be even bigger than most of us think. And most of us already think its big.
Yes scheme, yes personnel, yes injuries. The players constantly looked out of position but missed tackles are not scheme related. We needed talent upgrades also. And we got them!

I'm a big fan of Dennis Allen being back and believe we'll see his impact week 1.
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Old 06-09-2015, 10:23 PM   #9
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

Originally Posted by jeanpierre View Post
Said this on another thread...

Starting to see how Payton sees value in Ryan...

Dennis Allen is Assistant Head Coach to salvage, teach Ryan how to be a better coach...

Interpersonal communication skills, organizational skills, planning and implementation, all of it...

This works, I think this is another great achievement for Payton...

That's how I see it...
Agreed.

I've been saying Rob is the X's and O's and Dennis is the real "coach" who can handle an entire defensive team.
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Old 06-10-2015, 05:56 AM   #10
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Re: Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again

Originally Posted by Danno View Post
Rob Ryan's Defense Is Key for Saints to Become a Contender Again
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