It’s time to take a look back and see what went right, what went wrong and what needs to be fixed moving forward for the New Orleans Saints. Each day our WWL Sports Staff will break down each position and give you our opinions on which players we think will likely be here again in 2012, which players have to tighten up in order to be here and which players may have seen their days in Black and Gold. Today, I’ll focus on the defense, which has a new coach.
First up, an overview of the Saints defensive numbers. Under then-Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams, the Saints Defense allowed 366.4 yards per game, 24th in the NFL. The Black and Gold gave an average 21.2 points per game (20th in NFL), 108.8 rushing yards per game (12th,) and 259.9 passing yards per game (30th in NFL). The Saints failed to get consistent pressure on opposing QB’s this season which was a direct result of their thirty-three sacks.
But pressure helps in more than taking down opposing quarterbacks; pressure is something that helps the entire defense to thrive. The Saints defense only had sixteen takeaways last season, picking off nine passes and earning seven fumble recoveries. Under a Greg Williams scheme, that is not enough to get the type of results that the Black and Gold were looking for.
The biggest qualities the Saints defense had was their ability to get off the field on third down and, yes, their two-minute defense. I know, I know, it almost failed against the Falcons and Titans…and that two-minute defense did them in against the 49ers. But overall, the Black and Gold two-minute defense was a good one when you look at the entire body of work from last season.
The biggest changes that have been made to the defense thus far are on their staff. Just two days after Coach Sean Payton had his closing press conference the Saints had hired longtime successful defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Coach Spagnuolo is one of the better-know coordinators in the league and he has a great track record as such. Coach “Spags” will have Ken Flajole as his secondary coach and Andre Curtis as his assistant DB’s Coach this season as well.
There are a lot of big questions that will be answered over the next several weeks, and keep in mind that a new boss coming to the defense means that many players will have to prove (or should I say, re-prove themselves) to new Coach Spagnuolo.
I would have to give the Saints defense a good grade over the last few seasons. In 2009 the Saints won the Super Bowl and sixteen games; in 2010 the Black and Gold were 11-6 with another trip to the post-season; and last year the Saints were 14-4 and just seconds away from possibly winning it all.
So although we have a sour taste in our mouths, we as fans have to keep in mind that coaches as well as general managers take into consideration the entire body of work. The three year stretch that saw the Black and Gold win forty-one games was a very good run. But the way the Gregg Williams reign ended is perhaps the memory that many will keep in mind the most. And that is not right, it’s not wrong…it’s just the way it is.
Stay logged on to wwl.com as we begin taking a look at each individual player and how they did last season. We will begin tomorrow with Saints defensive end Will Smith.
What do you think the biggest challenges are for the Saints D? Sound off below Deke's video!
A good pass-rush an alot better LB play also our SS/FS need to improve...is a must.How the defense let the 49er's drive 85 yards in 1:28 is beyond me.I'm still not over that game,this was our year,an or 'former cocky DC'.GW got usbeat.An the players started acting just like GW.I Hope Spags can get that out of their system..
big willie must go
will smith has got to go!!! he gets paid top dollar, and very rarely has double digits in sacks. we got rid of charles grant, dont know why we didnt cut will smith too!!
New Focus for defense
Agree we have to get rid of Will Smith, let him go back to Bel Air with Uncle Phil and Carlton. Look around the leage at elite pass rushers, then compare their body types to will smith. There is not comparson, W.Smith is over weight and he couldnt get tothe QB unless he was serving a hamburger. EASY fix!! Cut smith and scare the LB's, DB's, Safety's, and defensive line and ends...
your lb crew is no good replace all 3
better ramp up the hunger level and get back to turnovers...way too many points allowed and way too few TOs.i was so plain in the SF game that what SF defense was bale to bring is what the saints did when they won it all...simple as dat