Payton forecasts changes on Saints defense

by Brett Martel, AP sports

Embattled defensive coordinator Rob Ryan remains on the staff.

Photo by Michael C. Hebert/Saints

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton says changes are coming to New Orleans' last-ranked defense.

However, Payton said Monday that he hasn't made decisions regarding the coaching staff or other personnel, including defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Payton said Ryan is "absolutely" still on his staff.

The coach added that he hasn't met with general manager Mickey Loomis or assistant coaches individually about personnel matters, referring to such potential changes as "something that would not be done without a lot of thought."

Whether Ryan is still around when the Saints return from their bye week is unclear.

The Saints are on a two-game skid and have a 4-6 record.

Defensively, New Orleans ranks last with 424.7 yards allowed per game and 31.5 points allowed per game.

"I do know this. Continuing just along the same course we're taking right now is not something that we're going to do. And I'm talking about players. I'm talking about us as a staff, all of us collectively." Payton said. "But you've got to look closely at what's winning and what's keeping you from winning and in fairness to the players and fans and everyone else, we've got to look at that specifically."

Payton's comments came a day after the Saints allowed 526 yards in a 47-14 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Injuries have hampered the unit lately, but New Orleans has ranked consistently low defensively for a season and a half, having finished last season ranked 31st.

Even in some of their victories this season, such as a 52-49 victory over the New York Giants three weeks ago, New Orleans defense often appeared to botch coverages and leave gaps that led to explosive plays.

"It's hard to swallow a game where all of a sudden you're feeling like there isn't an answer," Payton said. "And here's the thing, there's some things on tape that have to be better. And we'll get that right, we'll get that right. It might take a little bit of time. And it might hurt going down for some people. But we'll get it squared away.

Opposing quarterbacks have consistently had their best games of the season against New Orleans.

Washington's Kirk Cousins had the best game of his career on Sunday, throwing for 324 yards and four touchdowns, producing a perfect QB rating of 158.3.

Payton spoke after a team meeting in which he said he delivered a similar message about the need for change.

"It's a success-driven business," Payton said. "We've got some young guys that want to do well, want to please, some veterans the same way. Yet we've got to look closely at what we're doing and how well they're doing. But the main thing was, it wasn't going to be the same when they got back, it was going to be different. And it needs to be.

"You know, it's hard to be last," Payton added, referring to his team's defensive ranking. "That's hard to do. So we'll leave it at that."