As the New Orleans Saints look to revitalize the league's lowest-ranked defense under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the ex-Dallas assistant continues to attract a host of former Cowboys.
On Friday, Pro Football talk reported the Saints signed defensive end Kenyon Coleman, a 12-year veteran, who spent the past two seasons with the Cowboys. The move came a day after the Saints announced the signing of former Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler, a four-year veteran regarded for his pass-rushing capabilities off the edge. The signings are critical for a Saints' defense that is transitioning to Ryan's 3-4 scheme in 2013.
Coleman (6-5, 293) started five games for the Cowboys in 2012, but went on IR in mid-November after suffering a torn left triceps in a 38-23 win over the Eagles. The loss of the physical, run-stuffing lineman provided a sizeable void for the Cowboys up front. Dallas allowed 105.2 rushing yards per game through the first seven games of the seasons, but surrendered 150.85 over the final nine after Coleman was lost for the season.
“That's a loss because he's been such a good player for us,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said last November when Coleman was placed on IR. “He is a very, very good run defender and has shown that he can push the pocket and pressure the quarterback a little bit, too.”
Before an injury-plagued 2012 season, Coleman started 71 games over the previous five seasons while with the Cowboys (2011), Browns (2009-2010) and the Jets (2007-2008). In 2010, Coleman ranked fourth among 3-4 defensive ends in run defense efficiency according to Pro Football Focus. A season later with the Cowboys, Coleman also ranked in the top 10 in the category but only appeared in 425 snaps on the year.
Coleman could provide depth for the Saints at defensive end behind Will Smith and Cameron Jordan. Smith was retained by New Orleans earlier this month when the one-time Pro Bowl lineman accepted a $6 million dollar pay cut in his 2013 base salary to remain with the team. A more effective pass rush could help the Saints on the back end. New Orleans ranked last against the pass in 2012, surrendering more than 292 yards per game.
Keep your eye on everything NFL by following Matt Rybaltowski on Twitter @mattrybaltowski.