Saints hire Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator

Ryan now will lead up the defense in New Orleans. (US Presswire)

A day after University of Georgia assistant Todd Grantham withdrew his name from the Saints' coaching search, it seemed obvious the team's only move going forward in its search for a new defensive coordinator was to hire recently-fired Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

On Saturday, the Saints announced that's exactly what they've done.’s Larry Holder was the first to report the news.

The Saints interviewed Ryan on Friday, a day after talking to Grantham. Coach Sean Payton had talked about interviewing another candidate next week, but that won’t happen.

"We have experience in preparing and playing against his defenses, and they’ve always been challenging in terms of the different looks and pressures that they feature," Payton said in a statement. "We’ve had the chance to visit with each other and talk about our visions for our team, and I’m excited about moving forward as we prepare for the 2013 season."

Said Ryan: “I am excited and thrilled to be joining the New Orleans Saints. I have had the opportunity to get to know Sean Payton and his staff a bit better recently, and I am excited about joining the team. I have a ton of respect for Mr. Benson, Mickey [Loomis] and the organization, and I’m ready to get to work on all facets of the game. This is a great opportunity, and we’re getting started right away.”

Ryan replaces the fired Steve Spagnuolo -- who, in his only season leading the New Orleans defense, watched as the team allowed more total yards than any other squad in league history (an average of 440.1 yards per game).

But Ryan’s defenses in Dallas weren’t that great, either. The Cowboys finished 19th in the league in total yards allowed in 2012 and 14th in 2011. In fact, the only time that Ryan has led his defense to a top-10 finish was 2006, when the Raiders were No. 3.

After he was fired in Dallas, Ryan nearly landed the Rams' defensive coordinator job, but ultimately, he wasn’t selected.

After he was fired, Ryan said he could take solace in knowing that he did “a hell of a job” in Dallas. He also said that it would take him "like five minutes" to find a new job. Well, that was more than a month ago. But, hey, predicting the future is a tough racket, probably even tougher than trying to turn the Saints' defense from the worst in the league into something more palatable for Payton.

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