VRENTAS: Were you forced to run a different system?You might remember when Ryan arrived in New Orleans he had a lot to say about how unfair things had been to him in Dallas previously. So he talks like this a lot. At the same time, some of this rings sort of true.
ROB: No, I’m not going to say I was “forced.” I advanced the plan to the best of my ability. All of a sudden, we let some good players go; we changed the system after we finished fourth in the league in defense. I don’t know, it just seems strange to me. But I have a lot to prove, and I’m going to prove it. And that’s why I came to Buffalo, to be “all in,” right here. People can throw stones, but we will be throwing them back at them. They better be watching out.
VRENTAS: If you weren’t running your defensive system the past two seasons in New Orleans, what were you running?
ROB: Everyone wants to run Seattle’s defense. They should have hired a Seattle coach. I did the best job I could. Under the circumstances, trust me, I did the best job I could. I’ll be better anywhere else. (Pause). I’ll be great anywhere else. But it was unfortunate.
VRENTAS: After you placed fourth in the NFL in defense in 2013, you are saying there was a decision to change the philosophy. Where did that come from?Remember when the Saints hired Ryan, Sean Payton had spent a lot of time talking about how he wanted to change to more of a 3-4 type scheme. But by that second year... and after the Byrd signing.. it was pretty clear they had decided to do what Ryan is describing there. Except for that one year when Ryan was allowed to do what he wanted and the brief, uncomfortable period where Payton stayed out of Gregg Williams' way, the Saints have been atrocious on defense under Sean. Maybe it really is all his fault.
ROB: I am not real sure. Maybe a respect for Pete Carroll or something by upper management. And the Seahawks have done a fantastic job in their system. They believe in it. I believe in being a multiple defense, an attacking defense, a physical defense. That’s no slight on Seattle by any stretch. They are a very physical defense; they play a very simple scheme and let their guys play. But I don’t think that’s why you hire a Ryan. I think you hire a Ryan to get the best out of your players and put an enormous amount of pressure on an opposing team. We are going to do that mentally and physically. You lose half the game when you take it off mentally. It is better when you are more multiple. That’s what I believe in. That doesn’t make it right, but that’s what I believe in, and some of the great coaches in this league have done that, too. Seattle has been great, but all the other teams doing [that scheme] are finishing sh--ty like I did. Right there next to New Orleans is Atlanta, Jacksonville. That’s not sour grapes. That’s me getting pissed off. Because I am great.
VRENTAS: Who made the decision to run a version of Seattle’s defense?
ROB: I think everything starts with the head coach and goes higher than that. They signed players; they signed a free-agent free safety [Jairus Byrd in 2014], and said, we are going to keep him in the middle of the field like the goalpost. Well, that’s great. He’s not going to make one play back there, and now we have changed the entire defense for one signing, and it ruined us. He’s a great kid. But the truth of the matter is, you let an All-Pro safety walk, Malcolm Jenkins, and lost your two best leaders on the team, him and Roman Harper. We changed the entire style of play. It was strange. But hey, I did the best job I could. And it wasn’t good enough. They should have fired me. They probably should have fired everybody that made that decision to go in that direction. Now I’m going to move my whole family over here to Buffalo for a reason: to go kick everybody’s ass, including theirs.