Prepare To Die
12 Posted on November 12th, 2013 by Himself
Amid all the hoopla and celebration centering on the Saints' offense and its record-setting performance against the Cowboys, the real story is getting lost: Rob Ryan's defense had its official coming out party, and they killed.
“My career was slaughtered by a dick-headed man. I was a great defensive coordinator. When the dick-headed man appeared and requested a special defense, I took the job. I slaved a year to make the defense special, but all the best players got injured. The dick-headed man demanded a special defense anyway; and when it faltered, he slashed my career through the heart. The dick-headed man left me alive, but he gave me these. [strokes the scars on his cheeks] When I found a new team, I dedicated myself to rebuilding the worst defense into the best. So the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the dick-headed man and say, “Hello. My name is Rob Ryan. You killed my career. Prepare to die.”
The dick-headed man is, of course, Jerry Jones, the biggest putz in the NFL, who is apparently doing his utmost to copy the career—in an accelerated fashion and at a much lower level—of Al Davis. He entered the pathetic dementia victim stage around 2006, when he let Sean Payton get away from Dallas and build a Super Bowl winner from scratch in New Orleans.
And, to be fair, Jones didn’t really kill Rob Ryan’s career…he only derailed it for about five minutes. But in one of the most sublime developments in recent years, the kind of occurence that makes you understand how irony is the secret language of angels, it was Jones and his Dallas Cowpukes* who gave Ryan the opportunity to demonstrate in the most dramatic possible terms that the problem in Big D last year wasn’t the defense. It was the character of Jerry’s team.
And the way the Saints won would have been booed if it hadn’t been, you know, actually real. The established media loves harping on the Saints’ 2012 defense, “the worst defense in the history of ever.” (Actually, it wasn’t, but that’s a different story.) Ryan, on the other hand, had a top-ten unit until injuries derailed the season and they sank all the way to 19th. (Remember that number.) The Saints would have entertained clients under bridges to have the 19th-ranked defense, but Jerry Jones wasn’t satisfied: he made Rob Ryan the scapegoat for the lost season and fired him. (Well, what was he to do? Get rid of offensive genius Jason Garrett, the Sean Payton simulacrum he made out of popsicle sticks and mucilage? Never! Being Jerry Jones means never having to say “This fucking mucilage won’t stick!”)
So Ryan came to New Orleans, to take over a genuinely bad defense, while anointed savior Monte Kiffen transformed the Cowboys into the next NFL dynasty. And both teams met in the Superdome to compare notes. When it was over, the Cowboys had been anally raped.
In the celebration that ensued, most reporters gave the defense short shrift. The offense turned in a performance for the ages—according to ESPN, it was the most dominant offensive performance since they began using their patented, double-secret algorithmic superstat, “Expected Points Added,” in 2006 (coincidentally, when Sean Payton took over in New Orleans, ushering in an offensive era that needs its own superstats). The Saints set a team record for most yards in a single game: 625, more than any other team since 1982. They set an NFL record for most first downs: 40. They had 39 firsts late in the fourth, when they faced a 4th and 5, went for it, and got it. They could do no wrong. Mark Ingram—y’all remember him?—ran roughshod around, through, and over (!) the Cowboys, looking as though he were back playing in Tuscaloosa for Nick Saban against Tennessee-Chattanooga.
But almost lost in all this was the fact that the Cowboys gave up all those records. In a very real sense, if only for one game, the Cowboys’ defense took over from the Saints as the worst in NFL history.
And Rob Ryan? How did he do against his old team? Try this: the Cowboys entered the game with the NFL’s 8th-ranked offense. They left ranked—drum roll, please—19th! (And the angels sing.) Tony Romo had averaged 283 passing yards a game; he left the Superdome with 128. Dez Bryant caught one pass; Jason Witten snagged two. Demarco Murray had a pretty good first half, while the Saints were busy concentrating on stopping the pass. He rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. After halftime, New Orleans was so dominant that Murray had only 5 carries for 9 yards.
The Saints—last year, the sorriest defense in the history of ever—are currently ranked #7. San Francisco holds the #6 spot by less than a single yard per game. And the Cowboys? Monte Kiffen’s crew is ranked 32nd. With virtually the same players, and fighting the same problems as last year, Kiffen has plunged his unit into the dumpster and set fire to it.
And Ryan? He bought a round of drinks at Ms. Mae’s.
Everyone expected the Saints’ offense to be hitting on all cylinders and riding fast and smooth by this point in the season. As for the defense, we hoped it could rise to the middle of the pack. I myself predicted that they’d be top-ten, but only for the first, easy part of the schedule. Well, we’re beyond the halfway point now, and Ryan’s guys keep rising and rising. After last year, they had no place to go but up…but Rob Ryan has installed an express elevator. To New Jersey.
* To any Cowboys fans who happen to be reading this blog. First: what the hell are you doing here, of all places? And second, don’t let your hackles rise at the characterization of “Cowpukes.” You know it’s true. And it’s not aimed at you, or even at the team, really: it’s aimed squarely at Jerry Jones, who took your team’s reputation and turned it into toilet paper. The Cowboys will never cease to be the butt of jokes until Jones is gone from the scene. Don’t blame me: I’m just the messenger.