Having been fired from the Dallas Cowboys over a telephone call while he was on vacation on the Turks and Caicos Islands back in January, one of the first people defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called was Aaron Kromer, then the Saints‘ offensive line coach.
Ryan asked Kromer to talk to coach Sean Payton about hiring the jobless coordinator to run New Orleans’ defense, which in 2012 surrendered the most yards in NFL history opposite the league’s second-ranked offense.
“Hey man, I don’t know what’s going to happen there, but can you talk to Sean?” Ryan said he told Kromer.
But Kromer (who would soon leave to become the offensive coordinator in Chicago) couldn’t do it because Payton was still serving a suspension in the wake of the bounty scandal.
“Damn,” said Ryan, who spent two 8-8 seasons in Dallas. “That’d be the perfect spot for me.”
Ryan, of course, eventually did end up in New Orleans. Yet Friday marked the first time he delved into details about the circuitous way he got to what he called “the perfect situation.”
After speaking with Kromer, Ryan accepted a job as defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, whom the Saints visit on Sunday. He began working there without signing an agreement, Ryan said. The Rams announced his hiring on Jan. 25.
But Ryan didn’t “get the right vibe” in St. Louis, who he said wanted to run “more of a 4-3″ than the 3-4 he wanted to implemented.
“I thought to myself, ‘I was already mad about the Dallas situation, and you know what? This is the best thing for me to do and for (the Rams) — for me to walk away and wait for the perfect opportunity to come.’
“No one’s going to work longer than I do. I’m going to prepare as hard as I can, and with that situation, I (didn’t) think I (could) fully commit to something that wasn’t exactly what I could believe in, despite having great people in the building.”
Ryan called Fisher a friend of his family’s. “We love him. We respect him. He’s a great coach.”
The Saints on Jan. 24 had fired Steve Spagnuolo, their defensive coordinator in 2012. Rams coach Jeff Fisher on Jan. 29 announced Ryan would not be on his staff after all.
On Feb. 9, the Saints revealed they’d hired Ryan, who turned 51 on Friday.
“It’s been great for me and my family,” said Ryan, who’s been under contract with four different teams in his 10-year career as an NFL coordinator. “When you move that much, you have to take your family into consideration — and hell, this place has been fantastic for us.”
In addition to ranking sixth in total defense, the Saints (10-3) rank fifth in fewest points allowed. With a win Sunday, they’ll clinch a berth to the playoffs, to which Ryan has never been as an NFL coordinator. The Rams (5-8) rank 19th in total yards and 14th in scoring defense under defensive coordinator Tim Walton.