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A statistical breakdown of Rob Ryan's 12 NFL defenses

So Rob Ryan will be reunited with his twin brother Rex here in Buffalo. His official title will be "Assistant head coach/defense." The team hasn't announced any other hirings/firings on Rex Ryan's coaching staff, so the team will essentially have three defensive coordinator types on board in the Ryan brothers and Dennis Thurman.

Who does what remains to be seen.

In a release, Rex Ryan said that his brother's "tremendous working knowledge of our schemes" will help with the Buffalo Bills' defense. Of course, the unit took a giant step backward in 2015 with compromise as one major problem all season long. The Bills don't have the money to spend on high-profile free agents to improve the defense, so Rex is bringing his brother aboard.

Here's a look at how Rob Ryan's units have fared at his four stops in 12 years. On average, his defenses average a 22nd place finish overall, 21st in opposing passer rating and 19th in sacks with 21 turnovers per season.

  • 2004 Raiders: 30th in total defense (371 yards per game), 32nd in opposing passer rating (99.4), 31st in sacks (25), 18 turnovers
  • 2005 Raiders:  27th in total defense (330.8), 29th in opposing passer rating (90.7), 18th in sacks (36), 19 turnovers
  • 2006 Raiders: 3rd in total defense (284.8), 7th in opposing passer rating (74.1), 19th in sacks (34) 23 turnovers
  • 2007 Raiders: 22nd in total defense (341.6), 12th in opposing passer rating (78.9), 28th in sacks (27), 26 turnovers
  • 2008 Raiders: 27th in total defense (360.9), 12th in opposing passer rating (79.3), 13th in sacks(32), 24 turnovers
  • 2009 Browns: 31st in total defense (389.3), 24th in opposing passer rating (90.6), 8th in sacks (40), 19 turnovers
  • 2010 Browns: 22nd in total defense (350.1), 17th in opposing passer rating (84.4), 25th in sacks (29), 25 turnovers
  • 2011 Cowboys: 14th in total defense (343.2), 25th in opposing passer rating (88.4),7th in sacks (42), 25 turnovers
  • 2012 Cowboys: 19th in total defense (355.4), 29th in opposing passer rating (94.7), 20th in sacks (34), 16 turnovers
  • 2013 Saints: 4th in total defense (305.7), 14th in opposing passer rating (83.6), 4th in sacks (49), 19 turnovers
  • 2014 Saints: 31st in total defense (384), 24th in opposing passer rating (92.9), 25th in sacks (34), 17 turnovers
  • 2015 Saints*: 31st in total defense (413.4), 32nd in opposing passer rating (116.2), 25th in sacks (31) 22 turnovers


This past season, Ryan was fired after 10 games as the Saints' defense was on pace to shatter records. That defense ended up allowing the most passing touchdowns in NFL history (45). And at the time he was let go, Ryan's defense was allowing 424.7 yards per game, which would've been the second-most in NFL history behind the 2012 Saints.

In the three weeks before getting fired, New Orleans allowed 14 touchdown passes to Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota and Eli Manning.

The Saints tenure actually started very well. In 2013, Ryan's defense finished fourth in the NFL and the Saints went 11-5, winning a playoff game. Quite a turnaround from the awful 2012 group under Steve Spagunolo. Things quickly unraveled in 2014, however, as the Saints finished 31st on defense through a 7-9 season. That unit was reportedly plagued by assignment errors. And rather than fire Ryan then, head coach Sean Payton had the defensive coordinator simplify the playbook and weekly game plans.

Such a complicated scheme, as players noted often, was a problem for the Bills through 2015.

For New Orleans, it only got worse in 2015 and Ryan was fired. He wasn't thrilled with being made the scapegoat. Shortly after, on NFL Network, Rob Ryan said that “Everything in New Orleans is being blamed on me, including Katrina."

Now, he has another shot granted by his twin brother.

*-Statistics through 10 games

For more on the history of the Ryan Defense and the blitz in general, here's our Sunday story from this past season.

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