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Hobbs: LSU offense, Saints defense about to get new directions

Last Modified: Saturday, February 09, 2013 5:36 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

So the Saints have officially hired a new defensive coordinator and LSU, it appears, will get around to welcoming a new offensive coordinator just as soon as the Mardi Gras parades are finished.

Probably Wednesday at the latest.

First things first in Louisiana, of course, especially during the carnival season.

But the Saints’ historically bad defense and the Tigers’ ever-puzzling offense are about to get new directions under high-profile hires Rob Ryan for the Saints and Cam Cameron for LSU.

Both are welcome additions for frustrated fans, if not for the promise of a quick fix, then for the assurance that, for better or worse, at least things will be different.

Both will require a little PR massaging before another fan Mardi Gras breaks out. For the moment at least, they are mostly in the news for their recent high-profile firings, thus neither Sean Payton nor Les Miles needed anybody’s permission to woo them.

Cameron was a big story in New Orleans during Super Bowl week, mainly because he wasn’t there.

He’d been fired as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator, a rarity in that the canning came with three games remaining in the regular season.

In a week mostly devoid of high drama, it was often played up as the turning point for Ravens’ run to New Orleans.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who at the time of the firing called it “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a coach,” spent much of the week taking nice about Cameron. After the confetti fell on Ravens, he said Cameron would surely get a Super Bowl ring in absentia.

But he did fire him for some reason.

LSU fans probably don’t want to hear that, at the time, the Baltimore media were reporting that the Ravens thought their offense had become to vanilla and predictable.

On a brighter note for the Tigers’ single-issue Monday Morning Quarterbacks, the predictability was mostly traced to an accusation that he’d strayed too away from the Ravens’ running game and was throwing the ball too danged much.

Whether the firing was the key to the Ravens’ Super Bowl — not exactly something you’d want on your résumé — is debatable.

Immediately after the staff shake up, the rejuvenated Ravens promptly lost two of their final three regular-season games before getting hot for the playoffs.

Ryan was another story.

When the Dallas Cowboys fired him after the season, it was a shock because the team’s offense took most of the blame for another disappointing season while Ryan kept the defense presentable despite an avalanche of injuries.

Nor was it an amiable parting like the Harbaugh-Cameron tear-jerker.

“I’ll be out of work for like five minutes,” Ryan was quoted as saying at the time. “I’m too damn good.”

Ryan looks like a perfect fit for the city — and not because his father, Buddy Ryan, got a lot of credit for popularizing the so-called bounty system in the NFL during his days with the Eagles and Oilers.

There’s that, shall we say, casual attire on the sideline with a shaggy, unruly mop that would look right at home wandering aimlessly around the French Quarter. And there’s a persona almost as flamboyant as any of the goofy creatures down there.

He’s not exactly allergic to the spotlight or speaking his mind.

Saints’ fans will love it.

It remains to see how those theatrics will play with Payton, who reportedly prefers his assistants to remain wallflowers.

Some were surprised that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams lasted with the Saints long enough to get caught up in Bountygate.

The whispers at the Saints’ own Super Bowl three years ago were that Payton wasn’t exactly thrilled with all the credit Williams got for that season with his turnover-intensive defense.

Ryan doesn’t figure to be a shrinking violet while installing the 3-4 alignment that Payton prescribed as the cure during his unplanned sabbatical.

Payton surely knows that going in, however, and presumably is comfortable with it.

Miles and Cameron should be a far smoother pairing, maybe enough to crack the code on the Tigers’ offensive struggles.

They go way back.

Miles probably doesn’t meddle with the LSU offense as much as fans suspect, and he really does want to throw the ball more consistently.

But he should be comfortable with Cameron, who also has quite a rep for developing quarterbacks.

Cameron was a groomsman when Miles got married, a 1993 wedding party photo that also included soon-to-be LSU head coach Gerry DiNardo, who later would replace Cameron as head coach at Indiana.

Cameron later reemerged as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, replacing Nick Saban.

Small world, huh?

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at

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