Jonathan Vilma. Sedrick Ellis. Randall Gay. Tracy Porter. Aaron Glenn. You know who they are.
What about Greg McMahon. Dennis Allen. Mike Mallory. Travis Jones. Aaron Kromer. Any of these names sound familiar?
If you know who any of those guys are, I am impressed. For those of you who are still in the dark, maybe the name Ed Orgeron might help.
Still not sure?
They are all members of the Saints coaching staff, and they are all new to the team or in new positions.
This offseason all we, the fans, have been worrying about are the actual players... and naturally so. We only discuss whether or not our new draft picks will give us much needed help or whether our offseason free agent signings will be the answer. Meanwhile, back at the lair, there have been other new faces in the locker room that no one ever talks about and these new faces are equally, if not more, important than the players we are oh so familiar with now. Said new additions will be responsible for training, educating, mentoring and motivating not just the new members of the Saints, but all of the players, rookies and veterans alike. If that doesn't scream important, than I don't know what does. So while we are assessing whether our new players will be the missing pieces to the Superbowl puzzle, we need to be asking the same questions about our current coaching staff.
So who are these newbies of which I speak of anyway? Allow me to give you guys a little introduction to our new coaches. Some were hired from other teams while others were promoted to their positions from other jobs within the Saints organization. Click the links for their bio's from the New Orleans Saints official website.
- Ed Orgeron - New defensive line coach. Head coach of Ole Miss last year.
- Travis Jones - Assistant defensive line coach. Miami Dolphins coaching staff last year.
- Dennis Allen - New secondary coach. Promoted from within.
- Aaron Kromer - New running backs coach. Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff last year.
- Greg McMahon - New special teams coordinator. Promoted from within.
- Mike Mallory - New special teams coach. Was special teams coach at Louisville last year.
Coach Payton is the ultimate patriarch of this family but he is too busy with other tasks and looking at the big picture to focus the necessary and appropriate attention on each individual player. During the game he is busy calling the plays, so in-game coaching must be done by others as well. Of course this is where positional coaches come into play. They are the ones getting down and dirty with the individual players and forming close relationships with them. One could only assume that these men ultimately have a great influence on their players over the course of a season. Payton can't do it all himself, though we may like him to, so he has put together a staff of men he thought were the best available. While these coaches don't get nearly as much of the attention, they share an equal portion of importance.
Ed Orgeron is a large part of the reason the Saints drafted Sedrick Ellis. Having worked with Ellis at USC, Orgeron had a lot of praise for Ellis and you can be sure he was the little birdie in Sean Payton's ear. There is an example of how a positions coach can have a direct impact on the direction of the entire team. But if Orgeron can't help Man Child assimilate into the league properly in his first season, Ellis won't be the beast we are hoping for and our defensive line may not be much improved. Worse, if Ellis is a complete bust, Orgeron could certainly share much of the blame for all of the awful affects that a wasted first round pick can have on a team. See: Jonathan Sullivan.
To all those people who hope and pray that Reggie finally breaks out this season and shows us that brilliance we saw in him at USC, you better add Aaron Kromer to your list of prayers. It is now part of his task to get Reggie to stop dancing on the field and just freakin' run. And don't forget about Pierre. He is young and certainly still rough around the edges. Coaching is crucial to young running backs at this stage in their careers and it could ultimately decide which direction those careers take.
And how could we forget about that swiss cheese the Saints passed for a secondary last season. Tracy Porter. Randall Gay. That's nice and all, but will Dennis Allen make the most of his new promotion this season and get these guys to knock down some balls and break up some plays?
There is so much more that goes into the final product we all end up seeing on the field every Sunday that we don't get to see or even hear about during the week. In the end it does ultimately come down to the players, but the preparation the players get before stepping onto the field makes all the difference.
So the next time a player makes a great play on the field, a play you probably wouldn't have seen last season, don't forget about the unsung heroes in the khaki pants on the sidelines. They deserve a little credit too. The next time you see an awful play, well...then nothing has really changed has it?