Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore, Marques Colston and Chris Ivory. What do they all have in common? They each entered the league as late round draft picks or undrafted free agents but beat the odds to become an integral part of the best offense in the league. They are perfect examples of the scrap-heap Saints team that Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton have brilliantly built together.
But again, those guys all play offense. How many players do the Saints have like that on defense? Jonathan Casillas and Jo-Lonn Dunbar were both signed as undrafted rookies, but do they really contribute to the defense as much as Colston, Thomas, Moore and Ivory do to this offense? I'd argue no. Players like Jabari Greer (undrafted) and Scott Shanle (7th round) are both crucial, but the Saints weren't responsible for discovering them first.
So if I wanted to make a broad, sweeping statement right now I might say the Saints just straight up kick butt at finding and developing long term offensive talent and depth yet suck balls when it comes to doing the same on defense. Until the team gets better at recognizing defensive aptitude, bringing in higher caliber talent on that side of the ball and creating more competition in training camp, they will forever be middling.
Enter: a new Saints defensive coordinator. I think most of us would agree this team needs a fresh perspective and a new scheme when it comes to this defense. You'll get that with a new coordinator and hopefully he'll also be able to maximize the talent already on the team. Which is great and all, but that can only go so far and last so long.
What this defense really needs is a master architect. A coordinator who can match Sean's and Mickey's offensive roster building prowess; who has a great eye for talent and always seems to find that diamond in the rough or make that sleeper draft pick. Just as there seems to be a never ending stream of quality wide receivers in training camp every year, I want the same to be true with linebackers. The ideal defensive coordinator will be able to build depth at every position, providing long term stability, instead of simply putting a patch on the problem areas.
Does Steve Spagnuolo meet these requirements? Does anyone? I have no idea. But whomever the Saints decide to hire for the job, he'd damn well better. Otherwise this big change won't be much of a change at all.