NEW ORLEANS -- Better hire? Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan for the New Orleans Saints or Offensive Coordinator/quarterbacks coach Cam Cameron for LSU?
Time will tell. Both are intriguing acquisitions. Each man has landed on his feet after abruptly being fired at his last NFL stop, Dallas and Baltimore, respectively.
My choice is Cameron because he seems to be a better fit for Les Miles' Tigers, more specifically, quarterback Zach Mettenberger who could use a strong mentor with a pro-style passing background.
Check out Cameron's resume', not as a college and pro head coach (my alma mater Indiana of the Big Ten and the Miami Dolphins of the NFL) but as an OC and play-caller (San Diego and Baltimore in the NFL). The man can move the chains.
Yes, I'm aware that Super Bowl XLVII MVP quarterback Joe Flacco flourished in the playoffs under the direction of Ravens' OC Jim Caldwell and not Cameron, who was relieved of his duties by head coach John Harbaugh with three games remaining in the regular season.
Obviously, Harbaugh saw something lacking in the Ravens' offense (perhaps the Flacco-Cameron dynamic) that needed to be changed, so he pulled the trigger and Caldwell pushed all the right buttons. It turned out to be a brilliant move.
That said, the Miles-Cameron association makes perfect sense. The hire shores up a weakness in the coaching staff, provides a valuable teaching aide for Mettenberger and reunites two longtime friends (Cameron stood in Miles' wedding two decades ago) and former college assistants at the University of Michigan.
"You get to know a guy pretty darn well," Cameron said Friday, shortly after Miles had introduced him as LSU's new offensive coordinator. "I know exactly what I have an opportunity to be a part of here."
With regards to Ryan's hiring in New Orleans, this move by Coach Sean Payton is puzzling. Not from an Xs and Os standpoint but from a public relations standpoint.
At first glance, they seem like an odd couple, especially since Payton just finished paying a steep price for the alleged football sins committed by rogue defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Nothing against Ryan, I don't know the man, only that he runs a 3-4 scheme and he has more hair on his head than all of Payton's assistants combined.
It comes down to this: When Steve Spagnuolo got canned, I thought Payton would hire the coaching equivalent of the boy next door, squeaky clean in every way. Instead, SP appeared to pluck an apple off the Buddy Ryan gene tree who could be the poster boy for "Coaches Gone Wild!''
It would be just like Payton to switch to a 3-4, hire Jerry Jones' castoff defensive coordinator, and win big!
If Ryan's first year in New Orleans is anything like the initlal season of Payton's three previous defensive coordinators, then 2013 promises to be wild.
* In 2006 under Gary Gibbs, the Saints won the NFC South and reached the NFC championship for the first time in franchise story.
* In 2009 under Williams, the Saints forced a franchhise-best 39 turnovers (eight more in the playoffs) en route to winning their first Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLIV.
* And, in 2012 under Spagnuolo, the Saints allowed the most yards in NFL history (7,042) while Payton served a season-long suspension for his role in the Bounty scandal.
After talking with several well-respected members of the Cowboys' media corps, here is my abridged scouting report on R-squared:
-- His biggest critics inside the Dallas organization say he had "unsound philosophies'' and failed to put players in positions to succeed, such as playing zone coverage with press corners Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr.
-- Last season, Ryan's second and last in Big D, the Cowboys allowed the most yards in franchise history (5,687). In his defense, injuries to a handful of starters and key subs plagued their defensive unit for much of the season.
-- The Cowboys had 16 takeaways in 2012, 29th fewest in the NFL.
-- Off the field, Ryan apparently loves the media spotlight, which won't necessarily play well in New Orleans with Payton (see Gregg Williams). The Dallas media viewed Ryan as a go-to quote during the week of the game and after games.
Most certainly that will stop in New Orleans.
So who's the better hire? Cameron or Ryan?
It's way too early to say. But of the two, I'd say Payton has climbed out on a shorter limb.
NOTE: The Green Bay Packers have released veteran defensive back Charles Woodson, who still believes he has gas left in his tank. Sounds like the second coming of playmaker Darren Sharper to me! Even at age 36, Woodson might look good in Black and Gold, as a slot corner or safety.
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