METAIRIE, La. -- Rob Ryan didn’t take the bait. Even with a handful of Dallas-area media members in town to pepper the New Orleans Saints' defensive coordinator with questions about being fired by the Dallas Cowboys after last season.
Just like he did last week before facing his twin brother Rex, Ryan downplayed his own personal motivation as the Saints (6-2) prepare to host the Cowboys (5-4) on Sunday night.
“If I worried about every team that fired me, I mean hell, I’d have a grudge every week,” said Ryan, who still threw in his usual mix of wit and sarcasm during his weekly Friday media session.
Ryan even handled a few curve balls, like when he was asked if he now hates the Cowboys as much as his father Buddy Ryan always claimed to.
“That’s a hell of a question,” Ryan said. “But I think my dad had genuine hate for Dallas, and I don’t.”
As I wrote today, Ryan has been a “changed man” this season -- at least publicly, according to safety Malcolm Jenkins. Ryan has more of a filter on his dynamic personality than ever before, partly because that’s how the Saints prefer to handle things, and partly because Ryan doesn’t want to make any waves now that he’s landed such a good gig.
Ryan generally agreed with that assessment when asked how his approach to getting fired -- and wanting to get even -- has changed over time.
“I think it’s maturity,” Ryan said, lacing his answer with sarcasm and drawing a laugh from the crowd. “There’s no question it’s maturity. I’ve matured, and I’m able to handle it better.
“But hell, I mean really, honest to God, that’s right. I mean, when it’s your first time and those things, you get ... it gets like that. But then you’ve just got to come to the conclusion, 'look man, not everybody thinks like I do.' I always think I’m gonna do great, because I pour everything I’ve got into the job. And some people don’t think it’s good enough, and they fire you. And you get pissed, because you’ve done your best.
“So, hey, whatever happens. I’m excited to be here. And this is the most excited of any spot I’ve ever been is right here. I love it here in New Orleans. I love this team, I love the players, I love how the team is run. I love the organization. And it feels like home, and it’s a great spot for me.”
Saints coach Sean Payton even threw in a great one-liner of his own when asked about the impact Ryan’s feelings toward Dallas could have on Sunday’s game.
“It’s not like ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ where you had the one defensive tackle who just blew up the whole game, you know?” Payton said.
Here are a few more highlights from Ryan’s media session:
On why he thinks he was fired: “I’ve read so many things, I don’t care to read them anymore. So whatever it was, I’m sure it was a great decision on everybody’s part.”
On whether he feels like he failed in Dallas: “Whatever people suggest, it doesn’t make a crap to me, because I know I’m a great coach. So whatever it is, it is. But I said in Dallas on my way out, hey, there’s a couple better coaches than me that have been fired. Not many, but there’s a couple. So that’s just the way it is.”
On facing his former team: “This is a huge game, it’s a big game for both teams. And, hey, it’s what it is. And that’s what this sport is. And people change teams. Thank God it’s not like hockey coaches yet, where they just keep changing ‘em every period. But that’s the way it is, and I love those players out there, 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."
On how much satisfaction he gets knowing the Cowboys’ defense is ranked 31st and the Saints’ defense is ranked ninth: “I had no idea. So I never knew how those numbers are. I’m just trying to do my job.”
On whether he looks forward to these weeks with the spotlight on him, or wants to get past them: “Obviously you want the attention to just be on the team. That’s what it’s all about. We’re just here trying to work, do the best we can and get a win. And we’re doing everything we can to do that. So I haven’t been up all night studying what I’m gonna say to the media. I just wanna coach football and work hard and get it right and help us win.”