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Morning Ram-blings: On Rob Ryan

12/14/2013

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- This week has provided plenty of commentary and information on the shotgun wedding that never quite made it to the altar between the St. Louis Rams and Rob Ryan.

For those who have missed the story, the short version is that Ryan agreed to be the Rams' new defensive coordinator in late January. He had verbally accepted the job and was even recognized on the video board at a St. Louis Blues game over the weekend before he changed his mind and informed Rams coach Jeff Fisher that he had a change of heart.

It was a bit of a curveball for a position which has seen plenty since Fisher arrived in St. Louis. Earlier this week, Fisher said there were no hard feelings from the decision.

"It's part of the National Football League," Fisher said. "People in this the league and people in life, oftentimes, change their mind. He changed his mind. I'm happy for him.”

Late Friday afternoon, Ryan took the time to talk to New Orleans media and expanded on his decision to opt out of the Rams job before actually putting pen to paper. At the time, the Rams explained the situation as more of a mutual parting of ways based on a disagreement over the long-term vision for the defense. At its core, the difference was simple: Ryan was used to running a 3-4 scheme and the Rams wanted to stick with their current 4-3 alignment. There are other details that go with those schemes but that's the gist of it.

In discussing his decision, Ryan said he had reached out to New Orleans about a possible job before accepting the Rams job but hadn't gotten anywhere because Saints head coach Sean Payton hadn't yet been reinstated and then coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was still in his position. Ryan still had his eye on the New Orleans job when he agreed to take the Rams position, but the Saints job opened almost simultaneously.

After giving it some thought, Ryan decided it was in the best interest of himself and the Rams to part ways. Soon enough he was in New Orleans, a job he described as one where he can put down some stakes.

"In this business you have to be fully in," Ryan told the New Orleans media. "You're either all the way in or not. For me, hell, I'm an all-the-way-in coach. No one's going to work longer than I do. I'm going to prepare as hard as I can, and with that situation, it was just I don't think I can fully commit to something that wasn't exactly what I believe in, despite having great people in the building."

Ryan has been a revelation for a Saints defense that ranked among the worst in league history a year ago. New Orleans is sixth in the league in yards allowed per game and has undergone a dramatic transformation.

"They've done a real nice job acquiring new talent and they're taking things away," Fisher said. "That's what he does. He's an excellent coach and he's, obviously, got his hand in it and doing well.”

The Rams ended up hiring Tim Walton to handle defensive coordinator duties, believing his knowledge of the system from being in a similar scheme with Jim Schwartz in Detroit would make him a natural fit. The transition hasn't been so smooth as the Rams defense has been a general disappointment as it hasn't taken the next step after progress in 2012.

Not that the defensive struggles can all be pinned on Walton but it's easy to wonder on a week like this if Ryan would have helped the Rams make the next move up the ladder into top 10 status. Since Walton is a first-time coordinator, it's clear he has plenty of help from Fisher and the other, more experience Rams defensive coaches.

Could Ryan have duplicated his current success in St. Louis with this current group of players? It's an answer we'll never know but in comparing the two defenses, it's hard not to think Ryan's aggressive approach would have been a net positive for a Rams defense in need of just that.

I.C.Y.M.I.

A roundup of Friday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In Friday's Ram-blings, we took a look at the Saints' screen game and the danger of their running backs in the passing game. ... In this week's version of Double Coverage, Saints reporter Mike Triplett and I discussed Sunday's matchup. ... Next, we looked at all that's changed since the teams last met but how instructive that game could be for both teams. ... Finally, we offered an update on injured Rams Tavon Austin and Janoris Jenkins.

Elsewhere:

Triplett offered an interesting statistic on Drew Brees and the Rams.

In John Clayton's First and 10, he writes that the Saints should be able to get by the Rams despite their struggles on the road and against St. Louis.

At stltoday.com, columnist Bernie Miklasz chronicles the extent of the Rams' secondary struggles.

In their "Football Friday" video, Miklasz and Bryan Burwell look forward to what will become of Washington's pick.

Jim Thomas discusses the Rams' Pro Bowl possibilities.

Joe Lyons ponders the role of Drew Brees in keeping the Saints rolling in 2013.

Turf Show Times makes note of the Rams' unique push to get punter Johnny Hekker to the Pro Bowl.