New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan spoke to the media Saturday afternoon after training camp wrapped up for the day.
It looks like Kenny Vaccaro has made some plays. Do you like his impact so far?
“Yes, we’ve identified him. We worked real hard to identify who we wanted in the draft and our prayers were answered and we got the guy we wanted. He’s done nothing but work hard and try to get better and learn from the veterans since he’s got here.”
You knew what you had coming in but what have you learned from this defense in this short period of time?
“I’m so impressed with mentally how quick they’ve picked thing ups. Physically we’re going to learn a lot about that in the next few days when we put the pads on. I really like our mental approach to everything. We’ve got outstanding coaches. These guys take coaching. They’re smart and they adjust well. There are a lot of excellent veterans on this defense so things come easily to them.”
Are you pleased with the installation so far and where are you percentage wise in terms of getting installation in?
“These things take time but we’re good. We got a lot of defense in, more so that I’ve been able to put in with other defenses before. This is a smart group and a disciplined group. All the things that the Saints and Sean (Payton) preach here, the discipline, the accountability, the getting better every day and the working hard, all that’s right there.”
We haven’t talked to you since Victor Butler got hurt. Can you talk about what a loss that will be but also some of the things you’ve done? It looks like Junior Galette is running with the ones more and Will Smith is being more versatile among some of the things you are going to do?
“Victor is a young player that is really on the rise and he had an unfortunate injury but knowing Victor he’ll rehab and come back better. Hopefully he’ll come back like Adrian Peterson. Everybody’s looking for that one in a million. But in the meantime we’ve got excellent players here and we’re going to move on. We’ve got a lot of ways to handle that position and a lot of candidates in there that are going to work hard. We’re going to get a great ID on these guys and our philosophy is to work hard, do the right thing evaluating these players and choose the right ones to have the best team.”
What do you like about Eric Martin? I’ve noticed of the young guys, he’s stepped up a lot so far.
“Eric’s done a nice job. He works hard; he’s got a knack for pass rush. We’re going to find out a lot about these guys when the pads come on. He’s a smaller guy but he’s got good leverage. He’s got to hold the edge for us in this defense. I’ve been impressed with him mentally so far.”
How’s Will Smith transitioning so far?
“Will’s doing an excellent job. I know he’s had his hand in the dirt his whole life but some of those guys make great outside linebackers in a 3-4. Will’s doing it and his coverage is coming along real well. He works hard at it so he’s got a good chance to do well there and improve. And the nice thing is you’re going to be able to get an edge set with Will Smith, that’s for sure.”
Is this your normal routine coaching style on the field or does Sean Payton have his own rules that you are adjusting to?
“No, I just coach the way I always coach.”
What’s the walkie-talkie you talk to?
“They’re headsets. They give you these headsets to make calls nowadays. It’s not like I can’t speak to them in public but it’s the thing you call the plays into. All our inside linebackers have headsets so that’s how we do it. Instead of having 18 million signals nowadays they give you a walkie-talkie.”
Your reputation is as a big rowdy guy but on the field I’ve watched you act differently. Is that reputation overrated?
“We got a lot of work to do. We got some excellent coaches here. We allow our coaches to coach. We got Joe Vitt coaching linebackers. That’s always been my thing. He’s been coaching 35 years so I don’t step on his toes. He knows what he’s doing. If there’s a correction to be made I’ll make it and I’ll be the guy standing up saying “You’re doing a good job”.
What are some of the success stories where you’ve seen a guy transition from a 4-3 defensive end to an outside linebacker in a 3-4?
“DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer were both defensive ends and they play outside linebacker and they’ve done pretty good. I guess if you want to say, Anthony Spencer never had over six sacks and he’s an underachiever but he had 11 with me. I know how to coach. Mike Vrabel was a guy that was always a lineman when we got him in New England. He started at outside linebacker. He did pretty good. He had double-digit sacks and we won Super Bowls with him. I think I know what we’re doing. I know I do. I pretend I don’t, but I know I do. We’ve got a great group of players. We’re just trying to get better every day. We want to be poster boys for this Saints program, which is discipline, accountability, and toughness and that’s what we need to show on defense. That’s what our goal is and that’s what we’re going to do.”
I’m assuming that’s why you think Will Smith can make this transition? You’ve seen guys transition and you think Will can make the transition.
“Sure. Will Smith can do it. Martez Wilson, who is an excellent athlete, Junior (Galette), these guys will be fine. They’re edge players. There’s a lot more mentally to the position, but physically it’s very similar to what they’ve been playing.”
Source: New Orleans Saints Media