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Mailbag: Why Is Ryan's Defense Working In New Orleans?


So why does Rob Ryan's defensive scheme work well for the Saints but didn't work so well for the Cowboys? Does he just have better players that fit his scheme, or is it more about having enough healthy bodies?

David: I think there are a variety of reasons behind that. Health is certainly one of them, but it's hard to make that case when the Saints are playing well without key players like Will Smith, Kenyon Coleman, Patrick Robinson and former Cowboy Victor Butler. Also, this is going to sound like an excuse, but consider this: the Cowboys have played five of the 10 best offenses in the league this season (Denver, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington and San Diego), while the Saints have played one (New England). I'm not saying that makes all the difference, but it's certainly worth considering.

Rowan:I think health plays a crucial role in that. Think about last season when Ryan was let go. A lot of people thought he didn't get a fair shake because of all the injuries. But for part of last season, particularly early in the year, the Cowboys were one of the better teams in the league when it came to total defense. He's got a similar deal [embedded_ad] going in New Orleans as a top total defense that's not quite as adept at creating turnovers as it is limiting yardage.

Do you think the Cowboys have any regrets about letting go of Sean Lissemore now that the defensive line has suffered so many injuries?

David: Not really. Lissemore is a good player, and he appears to be doing pretty well in San Diego with 11 tackles, a sack and a crazy touchdown last week. But that's in a 3-4 defense, where I think he's better suited. Nick Hayden is thriving as a starter, and the guy behind him, Drake Nevis, has been impressive as well.

Rowan: Nope. They really liked Sean Lissemore as a player to develop as a 3-4 defensive end, but they didn't see him as the right fit in the 4-3. Lissemore admitted he had some trouble with the adjustment.

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