Saints coach Sean Payton has chosen Rob Ryan as his new defensive coordinator, hoping he can overhaul a New Orleans unit that was historically bad last season.

The Dallas Cowboys fired Ryan in January after two seasons as defensive coordinator.

"We have experience in preparing and playing against his defenses and they've always been challenging in terms of the different looks and pressures that they feature," Payton said when Ryan's hiring was announced Saturday, one day after he interviewed for the job. "We've had the chance to visit with each other and talk about our visions for our team and I'm excited about moving forward as we prepare for the 2013 season."

The Saints yielded 7,042 yards last season, the worst single-season total in NFL history.

Just days after returning from his season-long suspension, Payton fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and said the team would switch defensive schemes from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4, the scheme Ryan ran with the Cowboys.