PITTSBURGH -- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said his relationship with Rob Ryan is "outstanding" and said, "I love what he's doing," as he squashed reports that the defensive coordinator's firing is inevitable because of a growing dislike between the two.
Payton also shot down the notion that anything should be read into the way he has been caught shouting at Ryan on the sideline several times this year -- the latest coming during Sunday's 35-32 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, when the Saints were penalized for having 12 men on the field.
Later, the cameras also caught Payton and Ryan fist-bumping and half-hugging each other with big smiles on their faces.
"That's me, man," Payton said. "Pick somebody. Pick (special teams coordinator) Greg McMahon. Pick (cornerback) Corey White. Pick the game. Pick (assistant head coach) Joe Vitt. That's just me being fired up. It's more obvious when it's Rob because the camera's going to be on him more than it's going to be Greg McMahon or a player.
"Yeah, I get upset when there's 12 men on the field. That doesn't mean I'm looking for another defensive coach."
When asked about the topic after Sunday's game, Payton asked for the specific reports to be identified -- one came from CBS Sports and one from Bleacher Report. Payton shot them both down.
"(Ryan) and I get along. We're doing great," said Payton, who also ripped multiple reports on different topics that came out on Sunday morning -- including a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter that the Saints had shown interest in running back Ray Rice, which Payton also denied.
"Those are the 'Sunday splash stories,'" Payton said. "When you're in this business, on Sunday you've got to have something that everyone reads regardless if it's truthful or not."
Payton was even more supportive of Ryan when asked to further elaborate on how he thinks Ryan has handled the defensive struggles and the recent three-game losing streak this year.
"Man, I'm telling you what, his toughness and his passion -- he's there 'til when the crickets are going," Payton said. "It's hard when you're not winning in this league. I love what he's doing. Are there times when we have to look at things? Are there times when I get involved? Absolutely, I'm the head coach. But he's doing an outstanding job.
"You really find out a little bit about everyone when you start losing a few games and you go through a little bit of adversity, because it really hasn't happened around here in a while. Those are the things you appreciate as a head coach. When someone is passionate about teaching, those are the things you appreciate."
Players also continued to passionately defend Ryan after the game -- as they have all week.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro specifically said he had read the Sunday morning reports.
"I played as hard I could for Rob tonight," Vaccaro said. "I was like, 'I'm sick of people blaming him.' I did everything I could to help our team, but really to help Rob. He's getting the rap. He does a great job and people still want to be negative."