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Malcolm Jenkins: Saints' Rob Ryan 'a changed man'

When we tabbed Rob Ryan as one of our Making the Leap candidates before the season, we argued his gig with the New Orleans Saints was a chance -- and perhaps his last -- to revive a floundering career.

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After being fired by theDallas Cowboys in January, the longtime coordinator has done exactly that, rebuilding a Saints defense that sunk to historical lows last season into this year's fifth-ranked unit.

Jason Witten, whose Cowboys visit New Orleans on Sunday night, told "The Rich Eisen Podcast" that Ryan has "had this one circled on the calendar for sure," a theory backed by the coach's own words.

"Anybody who has followed me, we were No. 3 in the league for 10 weeks of the season (in 2012) until every single player on the team was hurt and then I got fired," Ryan said this week, per's Mike Triplett. "I think you get humbled when you're fired and you're not fired with the entire staff. I think that has a way of humbling you and a way of pissing you off. And I've got a lot to prove."

Still, Saints players claim Ryan hasn't made a big deal out of facing the Cowboys. Safety Malcolm Jenkins said "this is how we know (he's) a changed man."

"This is his opportunity to make it all about him and how he can get redemption and all this other stuff," Jenkins said. "But he's really focused on us just going out and playing well, getting a win and moving on."

"Playing well" is exactly what this defense has done on Ryan's watch. New Orleans has allowed just 18.3 points per game -- fifth best in the league -- with many of the same players that bled a 31st-ranked 28.4 points per game in 2012. Teams aren't throwing deep on the Saints with any success, either, so Dallas will need to find another way to move the ball against the man they canned last winter.

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