METAIRIE, La. (AP) — 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.
This 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.