Even though he is inheriting a defense that allowed an NFL record 7,042 yards a year ago, Rob Ryan considers himself lucky.

The new New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, the fourth in Sean Payton’s tenure, likes the situation he’s walked into as he works to transition the team to a 3-4 scheme.

It’s awesome. ... I got lucky,” Ryan said, according to Sheldon Mickles of the Baton Rouge Advocate. “I’m fortunate enough to be with a great program like the Saints led by Sean Payton. I haven’t felt this way since I was in New England with Bill Belichick (as linebackers coach from 2000-03). So I’m working for the best, and I hope to be a small part of our success.”

After Ryan was fired by the Dallas Cowboys, he announced he would have a job in five minutes. That didn’t happen but it wasn’t too long until it looked like he would be heading to the St. Louis Rams. When that fell through, and after five weeks, he finally got together with Payton and the Saints.

Ryan doesn’t have to make the Saints into a top five defense to win. They don’t have to be a top 10 defense with the high-powered offense. But New Orleans does need to make significant strides.

“It’s a very fortunate situation to be in,” Ryan said. “These guys have been well-coached before. They’re smart. They’re just ready to win. ... I think we all have a chip on our shoulder after last season. I don’t like getting fired. I know I had a job in five minutes, so it was no big deal. I know I got my feelings hurt, and so did our players. We’re looking to do something about it.”

We’ll see how much difference a new scheme and one year can make.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune