Wow. What a train ride Saints fans have had this past season. What seemed to be the end of the ride now appears to have been just a pit stop on its way to an exhilarating ending full of uncertainties. One thing we do know, is that Steve Spagnuolo has departed the train.
After coaching a defense that allowed 7,042 total yards of offense, a record worst, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been fired. You would think this would come as no surprise. But because of the extreme circumstances surrounding the Saints in 2012, I, along with many other Saints fans, figured he would be given a pass. Well, I guess not.
We have also learned from coach Payton that the Saints are switching their defensive philosophy to a 3-4 alignment. For those that don't know, a 3-4 is made up of three down lineman - a nose tackle and two ends - and four linebackers. Personally, I feel that this is a great move because it allows for more versatility and speed due to the substitution of another linebacker.
We all know that it would be foolish to think that this switch will suddenly completely fix the Saints' defensive woes. This will have to be a two or three year process before major success is returned. Like John Maxwell said, "You can pay now and play later, or you can play now and pay later. Either way you will pay."
The Saints are choosing the "pay now" approach in hopes of future success. But just because the defense technically will be rebuilding doesn't mean that it will be sliced and diced again this year. Who knows? This project might have immediate prosperity.
With the switch to a 3-4 alignment comes a switch in personnel. The nose tackle position now becomes as important as ever. Whoever the Saints choose to play this position must be huge and must be able to take on a double team. Basically, this player will be a giant plug. The defensive ends in a 4-3 defense are generally smaller than the defensive tackles, and are speedy pass rushers. In a 3-4, however, the ends must be bigger because their first priority is to stop the run.
The linebackers will need be a little different as well. The middle linebackers should be the biggest of the group, while the outside guys will need to be smaller and speedy so they can rush the passer. Some of these personnel changes can be made by switching around the guys that they have now, but a few will definitely need to be new acquisitions. Jarvis Jones from the University of Georgia now seems to be an applicable first round draft pick for the Saints.
And then there's the grand finale. Who will be the new defensive coordinator? Because of the change in defensive philosophy, the Saints will obviously have to find a play-caller that corresponds to the alignment. The problem is, there are only a couple premier, NFL-experienced options that would fit well.
The two that stand out the most to me are Mike Singletary and Romeo Crennel. If it were up to me, I would take Romeo in a heart beat. He helped take the Patriots to three Super Bowls victories in 2001, 2003, and 2004. That alone proves he is a supreme defensive mind. As a team clean off of this alignment switch, I think it would be in the Saints' best interest to bring in Romeo because of his success with the 3-4.
With all of this said, what's next guys?