PFT- The Saints defensive coordinator fired up his guys and led the Saints to a comeback win over a sort-of trying Buccaneers team yesterday.
Ryan’s impassioned halftime speech was cited by some as the reason for his comeback, as he lit into players, telling them: “Act like you want to be here,” Ryan yelled.
“Rob came in and chewed us out,” Galette said, via Katherine Terrell of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “It’s like ‘Hey, this guy really cares.’ You know he cares. You know how passionate it is. And we started playing as a team and just played with our technique, we were gap-sound and they couldn’t do anything.”
The main reason Rob Ryan needs to stay is the passion he exhibits for the game on a weekly basis. Are his defenses historically great? No. But you can't deny that he is a great football mind and a great motivator. How many people have turned the second worst defense in NFL history into a top 5 unit upon their arrival? The list is as short as Rob Ryan himself, a man who was let go from the Cowboys only to see their defense become the only one ever to best the 2012 Saints in terms of yardage allowed. Things change quickly in the NFL. If you had to guess you would have thought that Rob Ryan's rough patch would have came in his first year working with a historically bad defense. Turns out he turned them not only into a respectable unit, but a formidable one. What changed between this year and last year? I don't know, but I know Rob Ryan deserves a chance to be the one that finds out.
The mark of a good football team, and subsequently a good defense, is a solid leadership core. I can't say that, other than Keenan Lewis, this defense has an emotional leader. Junior Galette, one of the captains of the defense, spent more time talking to the media about how talented his teammates were than going out there and inspiring them to prove it. Second year safety, Kenny Vaccaro, a player who prides himself on his physicality, invented ways to miss tackles this year. On the surface, the loss of Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, Jonathon Vilma, and Will Smith look miniscule. Other than a rejuvenated year from Malcolm Jenkins, it would be hard to argue that these players aren't on the downside of their career. However, there is something to be said for experience. There is something to be said for letting your play do the talking. Those are two things this year's defense lacked.
I am not surprised in the least that Rob Ryan chewed out his defense at halftime of a completely meaningless game. As par for the season, the defense was atrocious in the first half. No passion, no fire, no will. For Christ sake, they let Josh McCown go up and down the field against them. They single handedly returned Doug Martin to elite running back status. Rob Ryan had to resort to drastic measures. And, you know what, it worked. Sure it was only the Bucs, but he inspired his team, that had nothing to play for, to end the season on a high note. Well, maybe not high, just not an embarrassingly low note. If there is one person on the defensive side of the ball whose passion I have not questioned this year it is Rob Ryan. If the defense isn't going to show up to play for him, then they aren't going to show up to play for anyone. You can put players in a position to succeed, but at some point it is up to them to take responsibility for their own miscues. A problem that their defensive coach, and leader, has not had. Just from the eye test this year, the Saints have generally been in position to make plays. It's not up to the fiery, gray-maned competitor on the sidelines to do it for them.