Well, I have to say I'm not all that surprised at the firing of Coach Spags. If you look at the stats of the Saints D this year, I mean, come on...It's literally the worst in NFL history.
So, who's up for the gig? A lot of fans have texted in that Lovie Smith should be the choice. But Lovie is not going to fit in with a 3-4 scheme. And, Smith has said he wants to be a head coach. It appears he's willing to take a year off to get that wish, so Smith may not be in the running.
I'll give you a name, though: Keith Butler, linebackers coach for the Steelers. He's coached under Dick Lebeau the last nine seasons. He knows the 3-4 scheme really well...and for him, it would be a vertical promotion, a serious step up.
As for personnel, the Saints already have a lot of guys who are suited to play a 3-4 D, such as Martez Wilson. He's a 3rd year linebacker who kind of fits the 3-4 OLB scheme.
And, this could mean that the Saints parts ways with Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma. Remember, when Vilma came here from the Jets, he was unhappy about the possibility of playing in a 3-4 defense. So, we shall see.
Kristian@wwl.com - The 2013 Senior Bowl week is under way in Mobile. There is plenty of talent in key positions of need for the Saints in this year's game.
LSU defensive end Lavar Edwards is a sure to be a guy the front office and scouting personnel will be keeping a close eye on this week. "I would love to be drafted by the Saints, it would be a great experience for me and my family to have a chance to play there," Edwards told me. Edwards was overshadowed by underclassmen Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo as premier pass rushers in Baton Rouge. NFL analyst Mike Detillier expect Edwards to go in the middle of April's draft.
Another name to watch along the defensive line is Southern Methodist defensive end Margus Hunt. He's HUGE at 6'7 and 265 pounds. The native of Estonia didn't begin his football career until 2009. Hunt came to SMU as a track athlete. But when he couldn't afford to pay tuition, he tried football and earned a scholarship. Hunt is just scratching the surface of his football talent, but this is the kind of guy the Saints would love to take a shot at later in the draft. Huge upside!
Saints general Manager Mickey Loomis is expected to attend the Senior Bowl practices and speak to the media at some point this week. I'm anxious to ask him if the NFL has entertained any discussions to reinstate the 2013 2nd round draft pick the team lost as a result of the bounty punishments. Loomis and the Saints have a first and a third round pick this April. They also are without a 6th round pick because of the trade in training camp for linebacker Barret Ruud.
So, Jacksonville and Philly have reportedly asked the Saints for permission to talk to Pete Carmichael, the Black & Gold's Offensive Coordinator. While that might make Who Dats nervous, given the exit of offensive line coach Aaron Kromer this week, there's no way Carmichael is going to take a gig as OC of the Eagles or Jaguars.
Carmichael is a free agent, and is being pursued by those two teams to take over their OC roles. Now, losing Carmichael WOULD be a huge hit to the Saints. It would mean two vacancies on the most prolific side of the football. He's been a major factor in the team's success over the last five years.
But, he's not going anywhere. It would be a lateral move, for one thing. Kromer took a major promotion in going to the Bears, but Carmichael would be leaving the Saints as OC to go to another program for exactly the same job.
Plus, Carmichael has a long-term relationship with Drew Brees that predates his time in New Orleans. Keep in mind, he was the QB coach when Drew was in San Diego. I have no doubt Drew had a hand in bringing him to New Orleans.
I just can't see him leaving such a solid organization to essentially start over in another city. Here, he's got a Hall of Fame QB and a head coach he's extremely familiar with. All the pieces are in place for Pete Carmichael to stay, as things stand how.
Now, the only possible fly in the ointment: There is still a head coaching vacancy with the Cardinals. Should Arizona approach him, that would in all likelihood be a much different conversation. But, as it stands, I think it's more than a safe bet that he'll be back with the Saints for some time to come.
Many Saints fans are speculating that Commissioner Roger Goodell may allow Head Coach Sean Payton to return before the end of the NFL season. However, unless there is some sudden movement on the part of the league, it's looking like Payton won't be back before February 4.
I emailed NFL spokesman Greg Aiello and asked if there is any update on the reinstatement of Payton and if there had been any meetings scheduled between the league and Payton's people. He told me, "None has been scheduled at this time."
Look...obviously, at some point it's going to happen. As much as I'd like to see Payton back sooner rather than later, it's looking like the league is going to wait until the full suspension has run.
A lot of fans and media types have speculated that Goodell might ease up on Payton's suspension, since the Black and Gold's season is over. And that seems logical, because when this penalty was handed down, the Saints were looking like they could seriously make a run at playing the Super Bowl in their own home town. So a lot of people think he should now be reinstated fairly instantly. I also agree that he should be reinstated now, because what's the point of keeping him out another month? Goodell has made his point. The Saints organization, Payton, and the fan base deserve to have some rapid closure.
Keep in mind, however, that the whole thing is at the discretion of Goodell. Payton has to keep his head down and just wait to see what happens. He doesn't have advantage of having a union go to back for him, like the players did.
I think it would be a good step toward putting the whole mess behind everyone if Goodell would allow Payton back early. He might also instill some good will with New Orleans residents as the Big Game gets ready to crank up in the Big Easy. However, I honestly think Goodell doesn't care much what the fan base thinks, as much as he cares about what he perceives as the integrity of the game.