METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan spoke for the first time this week on Saturday. And his reaction to Monday's night's blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks was the same as everyone else around Saints camp: It was a bad performance, but it won't shake anyone's confidence.
When asked if it's easier to push aside a performance like that because of how much success the Saints defense has had this year, Ryan said, "Hell yeah."
"If we were doing this every week, I wouldn't be here," Ryan continued. "Yeah it's easy. Our guys know we've got to play better, but certainly I've got to coach better. That's the first time that happened to me here. I don't like it, and it's not going to happen again. …
"I've had those days before, a lot of them. It's something that you want to avoid, but it's something that definitely can be fixed, absolutely."
"That quarterback is awfully good. He made some great plays. We put a lot on him to try and make him execute, and he certainly did," Ryan said. "He's a tremendous player. We didn't play our best game by any stretch. We played hard, that's just the first time this year that we turned some people loose (left them uncovered). And that's not who we are. We're better than that.
"So it didn't work out well for us, so we put a lot of time in and we're excited about the challenge this week, that's for sure."
To Ryan's point, the Saints (9-3) had more glaring defensive breakdowns that left players wide open than we had seen from this defense all season (including a 60-yard pass to tight end Zach Miller and a 4-yard touchdown pass to receiver Doug Baldwin, among other breakdowns against the run and pass).
"As a coach, that's definitely on me," Ryan said. "I changed some things up on coverage that obviously caused a little bit of confusion on our part -- not the quarterback's. It wasn't good, but we're going to bounce back from that and hopefully get better from it."
The Saints' ability to bounce back will be immediately challenged with the Carolina Panthers (9-3) visiting the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday night. The Panthers feature some of the same offensive threats with a versatile running attack and a mobile, dual-threat quarterback in Cam Newton, who can run or throw the ball down the field.
"These guys have got talent all over the board, but that Cam Newton is a special guy, obviously," said Ryan, who made a point to credit former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney for assembling a "heck of a football team" with players like Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly before he got fired last year.
"[Newton] can run, he can throw, he can probably punt it and kick it," Ryan continued. "He's tremendous, so it starts with him, but they also have two premier halfbacks (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) and a premier wide receiver (Steve Smith) and another one from LSU (Brandon LaFell) that's going to be awfully good. That's not even counting their tight end (Greg Olsen), who's probably a Pro Bowler this year behind our guy (Jimmy Graham).
"We've got our work cut out for us, but we're at our place. We're excited about it, our guys are excited about it. I know our town is excited about it. These are the type of games you play in when you're going for first place, and so this one is definitely exciting and we're looking forward to it."