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Rob Ryan: Blame me for Saints' poor defensive play

The New Orleans Saints' defense has allowed 409 yards per game this season, worst in the NFL. Rob Ryan's unit has struggled with every aspect from run defense to avoiding penalties.

The defensive coordinator, however, insists he can feel a turnaround coming.

"I know we're on the verge of breaking through," Ryan said, via The Times-Picayune. "You can feel it. (A breakthrough) is coming. I know it is. Just keep blaming me. Keep blaming me and that will be great."

Not only do the Saints rank last in total yards per game allowed, they also sit 30th in rushing yards giving up per contest (135.8), tied for 29th in points per game allowed (28.6), tied for 25th in sacks (seven) and 23rd in pass defense (273.2 yards per game).

"Stats don't mean anything to us," Ryan said. "I know what it looks like."

So far it doesn't look good.

In last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Saints struggled to provide consistent pressure on Sam Bradford, got burned repeatedly on stretch runs and it seemed whenever they made a play a penalty flag was thrown -- seemingly on Brandon Browner at every turn.

The Saints have several young players performing well -- Hau'oli Kikaha, Stephone Anthony, Delvin Breaux -- but their veteran depth is noticeably lacking, especially up front.

Facing an explosive Falcons offense Thursday night will be another litmus test for Ryan's defense. Even if Julio Jones isn't 100 percent, offense coordinator Kyle Shanahan has displayed his knack for scheming receivers open. Devonta Freeman should be in for a huge game against a weak rush defense. Expect the dynamic back get the ball plenty on stretch runs, which have killed the Saints this season.

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