Sports

Saints defense comes a long way under Rob Ryan

New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (center) has proven to be a valuable asset to Saints coach Sean Payton (right),
New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (center) has proven to be a valuable asset to Saints coach Sean Payton (right),Credit: bill haber/associated press

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FOXBOROUGH — Historically speaking, the New Orleans Saints had the worst defense the NFL has ever seen last season.

The Saints gave up 7,042 yards, breaking a league record that had stood for 31 seasons. They also allowed 434 points, a number topped just once since the franchise’s 1967 debut, by the 1980 “Aints.”

With the Saints reeling from a bounty scandal that resulted in head coach Sean Payton sitting out the entire season, 2012 quickly turned into a lost, forgotten year. They finished 7-9 and ended a streak of three consecutive playoff appearances.

Cheer up, Saints fans. Payton is back, and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has come to the rescue, transforming a unit that was an embarrassment a year ago into a surprising team strength.

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