St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher on Wednesday said he had “no problem” that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan backed out of a verbal commitment to work for the Rams and instead took a job with the Saints earlier this year.
“People sometimes in life change their mind, and I was fine with that,” Fisher said during a conference call held for New Orleans media. “If he wanted to go there (to New Orleans), that’s fine. If he wanted to stay here, that’s great.”
The Rams were poised to hire Ryan after the Dallas Cowboys fired him in January. In fact, Fisher on Wednesday said Ryan “made a commitment” to join the Rams as their defensive coordinator.
“He didn’t sign a contract or anything,” said Fisher, whose Rams host New Orleans on Sunday. “But he made a commitment to us.”
However, Fisher ultimately announced that Ryan wouldn’t be a part of his staff in St. Louis. Eleven days after that, on Feb. 9, the Saints made their own announcement that they had hired Ryan to resurrect a defense that surrendered the most yards in NFL history under the command of Steve Spagnuolo during the 2012 campaign.
“We were obviously talking and had a couple of things together, and he had a change of heart,” Fisher said. “That is fine, and I have respect for that.”
Later Wednesday, Saints coach Sean Payton said he didn’t become interested in Ryan until he got a call that the coordinator “might be available and (wasn’t) staying in St. Louis.”
“When I was aware he was available, I was interested,” Payton said. “It ended up being a plus for us, a plus for our team.”
St. Louis is 5-8 with a defense that headed into Week 15 ranked 19th. The Rams’ D is coordinated by Tim Walton, who used to be the coach of Detroit’s secondary.
Ryan’s unit is 13 spots better, and New Orleans is in first place of the NFC South at 10-3.
Asked to comment on whether things worked out for the Rams defensively, Fisher said, “We have quality coaches on our staff. We have a lot of young players.”
Fisher also called Ryan “an outstanding coach.”
Ryan isn’t scheduled to speak to the media until Friday.