Rob Ryan joked about all of the support he’s been getting from his players this week who are "steamed up" that he’s getting the blame for the New Orleans Saints' failures on defense.

"Well, that’s outstanding to know. I mean, hell, it’s all their fault," Ryan cracked. "No, that’s not it. I mean, we gotta get better. We’re a group, we like to function as a group. ... And right now we gotta hold up our end, and we haven’t done it. But it doesn’t mean we’re not gonna work like hell to get it fixed, and we are."

As I examined at length Friday morning, the Saints’ downturn on defense this season has been as stunning as their rise was last season when Ryan first arrived.

Last season, it seemed like Ryan had finally found the right fit after nine seasons without a winning record as defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders. Not only did he make the playoffs for the first time as a coordinator, his defense had gone from 32nd in the NFL in yards allowed before he arrived to fourth.

But this season, it’s the exact opposite. According to ESPN Stats and Information’s defensive efficiency formula, the Saints are actually worse this season than they were in 2012 -- when they set the NFL record for yards allowed in a season under former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

When asked what kind of toll the struggles have been taking on him this season, Ryan said, "I mean, hell, I’m not quitting."

"Every year’s different, and every game’s different. So that’s what you keep battling for," Ryan said. "We’ve got a great room there to work with. We’ve got great coaches, and we need to fix it.