Rob Ryan not clinging resentment over being fired by Dallas

METAIRIE — Rob Ryan is enjoying his new gig in the Big Easy too much to cling to any resentment over being fired in Dallas

last season.

At least, that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it, just as the Saints’ close-to-the-vest head coach, Sean Payton, would

want him to in the days before the Cowboys invade the Superdome.

“I’m just trying to be a little tiny

part of our success here with the Saints and that’s all I care about,”

Ryan said after

Friday’s practice. “I just want to be great, do the best I can

with the Saints and we’re all working hard together and trying

to be part of something special.”

When Ryan was fired after last season,

he sounded incredulous over the notion that he couldn’t be part of the

solution in

Dallas, where he’d been defensive coordinator for two seasons. He

predicted he’d have another job in “5 minutes,” and if he

was speaking figuratively, then he wasn’t far off.

He was snapped up by Payton soon afterward and the Saints’ defense is already vastly improved.

Sunday night in the Superdome, his new defense will try to stop his former team. But Ryan dismisses the notion that this game

is personal for him, or that he should somehow feel vindicated by the fact that New Orleans’ defense ranks ninth in total

defense, while his old unit ranks 31st under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.

“If I worried about every

team that’s fired me, I mean, hell, I’d have a grudge every week,” Ryan

said. “That’s the way this sport is. People change

teams. Thank God it’s not like hockey coaches yet, where they keep

changing them every period, but it’s the way it is. I love

those players out there (in Dallas). They were great to me.

There’s a lot of great people in that organization and I was fortunate

enough to be with them for two years.”

Ryan still wears his hair long and endears himself to his players with his youthful passion and humor.

At the same time, Ryan said he has matured enough to not take it too personally when a team sends him packing.

“You just got to come to the

conclusion, look man, not everybody thinks like I do, Ryan said. “I

always think I’m going to

do great because I pour everything I’ve got into the job. Some

people don’t think it’s good enough and they fire you and you

get (upset) because you’ve done your best.

“I’m excited to be here. This is the most exciting of any spot I’ve ever been is right here,” Ryan continued. “I love it here

in New Orleans. I love this team. I love the players. I love how the team is run. ... It feels like home and it’s a great

spot for me.”

When pressed about whether he feels he

failed in Dallas, Ryan said, “I know I’m a great coach, so whatever it

is, it is. But

I said in Dallas on my way out, there’s a couple better coaches

than me that have been fired. Not many, but there’s a couple.

... Whatever it was, I’m sure it was a great decision on

everybody’s part.”

Payton said too much is made of so-called revenge games.

“Just by the nature of what we do, you know, the appreciation for just a win each week and how difficult it is to get that,

I think that a lot of that’s overblown,” Payton said. “Each week with our league there’s always going to be a connection,”

Payton then grinned as he dropped a reference to a 1980s movie character, played by Forest Whittaker, who takes out his anger

over his car being vandalized on a rival high school football team.

“It’s not like ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High,’ where you had the one defensive tackle that just blew up the whole game,” Payton

said. “Guys are trying to do their best.”

Saints defensive players this week have corroborated Ryan’s story that he has been focused on the game plan, not a personal

vendetta.

“This is how we know Rob Ryan is a

changed man. This is his opportunity to make it all about him and about

how he can get

redemption. He’s really focused on us just going out, playing

well, getting a win and moving on,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said.

“Knowing he’s in a good place and he has something special here,

he has been on his best behavior.”

Ryan added that he hasn’t “been up all night studying what I’m going to say to the media. I just want to coach football, work

hard, get it right and help us win.”