New Orleans Saints Fire Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IJanuary 24, 2013

Sean Payton didn't take long to make his presence felt with the New Orleans Saints, as he's fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo after just one year on the job. 

Via CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora:

Saints announce Steve Spagnuolo out as D coordinator. Wow

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 24, 2013


The "Wow" in La Canfora's message relates more to the man getting fired than the actual firing itself. Spagnuolo is the one who engineered the 2007 New York Giants defense, winning Super Bowl XLII under Tom Coughlin. 

But after a miserable season that saw Spagnuolo's defense rank dead last in total yards allowed (by almost 1,000 yards), it should't be a shock that the Saints would want to make a change. 

Perhaps the most glaring problem with Spagnuolo's defense last year was that it couldn't stop the run, allowing just under 150 yards per contest to opposing offenses, including 233 yards to Jamaal Charles in Week 3. 

In addition to Spagnuolo,'s Gregg Rosenthal reports that secondary coach Ken Flajole has been axed as well. 

This news might also cause some speculation about a possible return by Payton's old defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, since Roger Goodell has given him permission to seek a job (h/t

But Payton has already ruled such a move out in a recent news conference. 

Furthermore, NFL Network's Steve Wyche reports:

Sean Payton saw enough. Steve Spagnuolo out, switching to a 3-4. Only team in the NFC South that will play an odd front.

— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) January 25, 2013


This raises a couple questions.


Who Will Payton Hire?

The market is pretty dry for top 3-4 defensive coordinators at this point. Since Payton is getting off to a late start, thanks to his recent reinstatement, all the top guys have already been taken.

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio suggests Eric Mangini could make a return to the NFL as a coach after working on the media side of things for the past few years.

I'd be more inclined to think Romeo Crennel would be a better fit.


Do the Saints Have the Personnel to Run the 3-4?

This may end up being a bigger issue for the Saints in 2013 than finding a coach. 

At this time, the Saints don't have a single pass-rusher on the roster that is a natural fit to play standing up as an outside linebacker. Furthermore, 3-4 defensive ends don't grow on trees, and it would be a stretch for any of the team's current players to dominate at that position. 

This will be an interesting, developing story to keep an eye on throughout the spring, as the Saints will certainly need to invest heavily in the upcoming draft to fill the needs of the new defensive scheme. 


As For Spags...

From what we're seeing, Spagnuolo isn't likely to be out of a job for very long. 

Per La Canfora:

Immediate thought on Spagnuolo's firing is that he ends up talking to Chip Kelly very soon. Philly needs a DC; Spags loves Philly

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 25, 2013


Such a move makes sense on paper.

The Philadelphia Eagles have the personnel for a 4-3 defense, and since Chip Kelly is so entrenched as an offensive coach, he might want a seasoned coordinator he can trust to run his defense. 

Stay tuned to Bleacher Report for more breaking news on this latest development. 


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