METAIRIE, La. — Rob Ryan spent four seasons working in New England with Bill Belichick as the Patriots’ linebackers coach.
He hopes he can match the success he had under Belichick, where he helped coach two Super Bowl champions, with Sean Payton.
In just half a year with New Orleans, he already can see the similarities between the franchises, not exactly a bad compliment for the Saints.
“I think it was a unique situation I was in in New England and it’s the same one here,” Ryan said. “There’s a reason why these two coaches are so successful. They make you be successful.”
While Ryan thinks “it was probably hard for” Belichick with him on staff, the Patriots’ coach remembers is differently.
“He’s good in the running game, good in the passing game, good on situation football,” Belichick said. “He’s got a good energy; he installs a solid confidence within his players because he’s always prepared. He knows what to do and I think that carries over to the people he works with…at least it did here. I really enjoyed having Rob on the staff here.”
Ryan, for what it’s worth, fondly remembers his time in New England.
“I had great memories out there, learned a ton of football,” Ryan said. “There’s no way I’d still be coaching without my experience working with Bill Belichick.”
Ryan’s path to New Orleans, where he’s coaching with a legitimate Super Bowl contender for the first time since leaving New England, saw both ups and downs.
In five seasons in Oakland, his defenses finished as low as No. 30 (his first season) and as high as No. 3 (his third season). In 2006 and 2007, the Raiders boasted the league’s No. 1 and No. 2 passing defenses, respectively.
Two seasons in Cleveland were disappointing, though the 2010 unit was No. 13 in scoring defense while he had a top 16 unit in 2011 in his first of two years in Dallas.
Finally in New Orleans, where he’s backed by the No. 3 total offense and No. 9 scoring offense, Ryan has a chance to unleash his full book of defenses. New Orleans ranks No. 11 in total defense but No. 4 in scoring defense.
He’s able to use what he has learned from Belichick and his father Buddy Ryan and in nearly 30 years as a coach.
“The only system I knew, which was a great system, was all about pressure,” Rob Ryan said. “And then when I went to Belichick, after coordinating in college football, I think I had one way to play and I knew it all. Hell, I had no idea how much I didn’t know.”
He added, “I learned so much about situational football. I knew nothing about situational football until I got with Belichick. It’s been great. We’re still learning.”
Belichick, for one, sees a Saints defense that isn’t surprised very much by what has been thrown at it.
“Rob’s teams have always been – we played against them at Oakland, at Dallas, and now this week at New Orleans, but just watching his defenses play –they’re always very well prepared,” Belichick said. “They’re a good situational team. They do things weekly that attack the specific opponent that they’re playing, keep you off balance and present problems that hit at your weaknesses.”