The New Orleans Saints – after finishing 25th in the league in pass defense and 29th in rush defense – announced Wednesday that they will retain Rob Ryan.
“That’s great,” Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The things that (general manager) Mickey Loomis is doing are above my pay grade. I love Coach Ryan, and I’m happy to have him back.”
To be fair, defense wasn’t the only reason that New Orleans (7-9) missed the playoffs this year. The Saints lost four games by three points or fewer and finished with a losing record at home (3-5), where they are normally unbeatable.
What went wrong?
“Just a lot of little things,” Stills said. “Attention to detail. There’s games that we’re up in the fourth quarter and we’re supposed to win and we just don’t close it out. We don’t finish. We had a lot of young players playing. We had a lot of injuries. We just got to continue to grow and get better. We know for sure that the struggles we had at home this year will not happen again next year.”
The Saints struggled mightily in November, losing three straight home games to the 49ers, Bengals and Ravens. Is that where the season was lost? Did things snowball?
“No, I don’t think so,” Stills said. “I think every week during that stretch we would come back to work with a refreshed attitude, a new mindset, (and we) were ready to play. We just couldn’t get things together. We couldn’t get things rolling. It definitely still stings, and it’ll sting all through the offseason until next year. We’ve got to make changes and get things rolling next year.”
The one NFC South team that did get things rolling this year was Carolina, which won four straight games to end the season and beat Arizona, 27-16, in the Wild Card round last weekend.
Should we be surprised by the Panthers’ resurgence?
“I’m not very surprised at all,” Stills said. “Cam’s been hurt, and so I feel like when he wants to run the ball and teams don’t contain him and he shows (the ability) to pass and run, they’re hard to stop. They’re hard to beat. That’s what he’s been doing these past few weeks, and they’re hot right now. Look out for them.”
Carolina, which beat New Orleans 41-10 in Week 14, plays the Seahawks in Seattle this Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET.
The aforementioned Ravens, meanwhile, are also still alive in the postseason. And, like Carolina, they’re facing the No. 1 seed in their conference this Saturday. Baltimore and New England kick off at 4:35 p.m. ET.
The word on the street is that Baltimore’s secondary is weak.
“I would never call anybody in the NFL weak,” Stills said. “Everybody’s there for a reason, so they can play. But what Tom Brady can do and the receivers they have up in New England, it’s going to be tough to stop those guys. So if they can stop Tom and keep him from getting hot, then the Ravens could probably come out on top in that game.”