Sean Payton wasted no time in his first 48 hours back as he fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo just one year into his new job. Less notably, The Saints also fired defensive backs coach Ken Flajoe who was the defensive coordinator of the Rams under Spagnuolo. They were relieved of their duties in tandem, suggesting neither really were the right fit in New Orleans. It also seems clear they are taking the brunt of the blame of the Saints securing the "worst defense in NFL history" title, though Sean Payton added: "Philosophically we are changing our defense to a 3-4 alignment". That's something my friend Marijn has been clamoring for for years, so I know he is salivating at the news. Whereas in year's past I would always contend they didn't have the linebackers/personnel to pull off a 3-4, I think that's changed and the timing for this is actually good. Clearly "Spags" ran a 4-3 system and the Saints didn't have the players to pull off his system that well. The fact of the matter is the Saints do have talent on defense, though, regardless of the season they just had. I do believe a 3-4 system could be a better fit for their best talent.
Well, first of all, they have the interior linebackers for it. Picking up Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne this past offseason improved them in that department. While they aren't quite as thick as you'd ideally need at that position, they both tackle well and it will put less demand on them laterally which is arguably their biggest weakness. In addition, it suggests the Saints are going all in with the development of young budding players Junior Galette and Martez Wilson. Both are highly gifted athletes, but "tweeners" in the 4-3 system. In the 3-4 they could be full time outside linebackers, making them extremely dangerous off the edge blitzing. Don't rule out Roman Harper as a backer in the 3-4 scheme either. Akiem Hicks and Cam Jordan are others that I think will fit the system well on the defensive line. The big question is whether or not they can find a prototypical NT to anchor that middle interior position, which is key to a 3-4 being successful. I'm not sure Bunkley can be that guy. I think Hicks immediately moves to end in a 3-4 scheme, but they need a mammoth NT to anchor this line and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints go nose tackle in the 1st round of the draft now, depending on what happens with Jermon Bushrod.
This offseason just got a lot more interesting and a lot more fun. Stay tuned for the new defensive coordinator hire, which I'm sure will happen real soon. As much as I was hoping for Lovie Smith, he runs a 4-3 defense, so he's likely not the right fit given the philosophical change. Thoughts on Spags getting canned?
WHO DAT! I love Payton. He comes in and takes charge. Players do not like Spags, neither did Payton. BOOM! Out of there. Try something new!
And well it has not been years, I think it has been just right after the SF game in the offseason the Saints lost. I was thinking about firing Williams and 2 days later he was not resigned. So it might be close to the 366 days in between that day and this. But since then I was rooting 3-4. And well... I AM THE FUCKING SAINTS NATION GURU! Sorry Elizabeth... but yeah I am haha!
On the new defensive coordinator... I am not ruling out Smith. The guy is awesome running the best defense (in fantasy at least afaik, playing against the bears killed me more then once). So he is smart. I am sure he will be great running a 3-4 defense too. And well, I have already written down why he should come to NOLA. And for Smith this might be an extra thing. Let him have a crack at 3-4 system and see what happens! The guy commands respect in the lockerroom, something that is aparently the total opposite of Spags. So that will get your defense going.
One small thing that bugs me a little... There is this guy called Ryan who is a DC that was fired and runned a 3-4 defense (if I am not mistaken)... who just signed with the Rams. I bet he would have come to the Saints if the Ginger Leprechaun would have reinstated Payton sooner. Not saying I am fully sold on Ryan as a DC, but it at least is an option that was out there... that we never had as a option.
Next Bold prediction (I thought of this a week ago, and well... as it seems my mind works the same as Payton does... if it is possible...) Ed Reed will be a Saint next year!
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#GURU #JustSayin'(Guru on the lets not wait, fire them. Goodell made us wait, but Payton did not)