"It's not necessarily the position, it's the disposition," he says. "You've got to have the right guys, the right mentality, to have consistency. Every now and then you get a flash-in-the-pan team that shows up and has a decent year on defense. But for the most part it's usually us and Pittsburgh right there with each other, and I think it has a lot to do with the type of players we have—and the mind-set of those players. There's a passion that both teams play with on defense."
When he interviews draft prospects, "he sits them in front of a video screen and shows highlights that illustrate how his defense works. Then Ryan asks each player whether he wants to be a part of that unit. Those slow to answer are scratched from the Ravens' list. You can't be faint of heart and play for Ryan."
He also makes it a point to constantly remind his players of Baltimore's "rich history" on defense.
Printed at the bottom of each page and on the back cover of his weekly playbooks are the words UPHOLD THE TRADITION. "It's something we want to feed into," says Ryan, 46. "Our tradition is something I'm proud of—where we come from, where we've been and where we're going."