NEW ORLEANS -- Open letter to New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan:
Coach Ryan, take a well deserved bow!
What you did in one season with the New Orleans Saints defense is nothing short of a football miracle, transforming the NFL's worst unit in terms of yards allowed in 2012 (440.1 ypg) into the league's fourth-ranked unit (305.7 ypg) going into the 2013 postseason.
That represents a difference in 134.4 ypg, the largest turn-around in one year in NFL history.
Scoring defense also is way down from a year ago. In 2012, the Saints allowed 28.4 ppg (31st in the NFL). This season, the average dropped to 19.0 ppg (4th league wide).
From 31st in passing defense in '12 to No. 2 in '13. Sacks are way up, from 30 to 49. The defense ranks first in fewest first downs allowed (17.1 per game). There is marked improvement across the board, though the defense produced fewer takeaways in '13 (19) than in '12 (26).
You changed the culture 180 degrees. You kept your unit together and playing hard in the face of numerous injuries to key contributors in OTAs, training camp and during the season.
You would be the first to credit the players, the competent assistant coaches who work with you and Coach Sean Payton who believed in you when owner/GM/czar Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys cast you aside a year ago.
Payton, too, should be applauded for recognizing your vast talents, getting out of the way and giving you and your assistants the autonomy (within reason) to run the defense.
Regardless what happens in the postseason, you are the 2013 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.
Next drink (or two) at Ms. Mae's is on me!
Brian Allee-Walsh, SportsNOLA.com
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