Pregame Read: Rob Ryan Brings Refreshing Start for Saints Defense

Rob RyanAbsorb the following statements for a moment.

Rob Ryan’s defensive unit will walk into the Superdome on Sunday ranked 11th in the league. Defense is winning games for the Saints this year. The Saints’ defense has four sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and two recoveries. The D is allowing 15.5 points per game. To quote the great Vince Lombardi, “What the hell’s going on out there?”

Sure, it’s only two games. But do you remember where the Saints’ historically bad 2012 defense was after two games last season? In a 42-30 season-opening loss to the Washington Redskins, the D gave up 459 total yards. Steve Spagnuolo’s group followed up that effort with a 35-27 loss to the Panthers, during which they gave up 486 total yards. That’s 945 yards given up in the first two games last year. This year? 640 yards, a 305-yard difference.

While the offense has been down, it certainly has not been out. But it has sputtered. The defense won the Falcons game after the offense couldn’t put it away late. Then the D made a key third down stop against the Buccaneers. Drew Brees and Co. marched down the field in three plays and set up Garrett Hartley’s game-winning field goal.

2-0. Top 15 defense.

I have no doubt the offense will show up (probably against the Cardinals on Sunday). And I have no doubt the first two weeks have been an amazing shot in the collective arms of Saints defenders. The group was the most maligned in the NFL last season; the butt of all kinds of jokes. No more. They have something to prove. Rob Ryan has something to prove. Heck, Sean Payton has something to prove.

With each successful outing, the Saints defense will gain more confidence. It’ll get back more of that swagger. Tough times will come, but when they do there will be a foundation already there. It’s tough to tear down something that’s built well.

If the defense stays strong and the offense starts scoring points in bunches, the team will be very dangerous. Last year’s team would have been very dangerous with a defense that wasn’t the worst in the history of the world.

What if Rob Ryan resurrects this defense? What if his gang of disrespected castoffs makes the experts eat their words? What if … ? Alright, I won’t get too far ahead of myself, but if Ryan keeps buying rounds of drinks at bars around town, that’ll mean he’s done what he set out to accomplish.

And Ryan could end up being one of the biggest (literally) cult heroes this city has ever seen.

It’s only been two weeks, but what a refreshing start.

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