The Saints defense might not necessarily be better this year, but they will be less predictable.
So while they’re not ready to discredit the work of former coordinator Gregg Williams (he did help them win a Super Bowl), they’re also embracing the ideas of new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
“It’s going to be a huge change. About every scheme thing imaginable is completely flip-flopped,” linebacker Scott Shanle told Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, in a detailed look at the changes.
Shanle said stylistically, Spagnuolo’s approach takes him back to 2006-08, when Gary Gibbs was in charge. Considering they ranked 13th, 25th and 26th in points allowed those years, that’s not a lofty aspiration.
“I’m not saying we’re going to play like that defense,” Shanle quickly added. “But that’s the kind of scheme that people really can expect to see.”
More accurately, Saints fans should expect something like what Spaghnuolo ran to such success with the Giants.
He wants to get his pass-rush from the front four only, rather than the head-long blitzes that left the Saints vulnerable to quick passes last year. And defensive backs used to playing man will have to get used to zone concepts.
Safety Roman Harper described the differences between Spagnuolo and Williams as “Night and day. Earth and Pluto.”
The Saints need to emphasize the difference, as they try to step away from their bounty-marred past. But putting Spagnuolo’s changes into play may take longer than the pin-your-ears-back style Williams used, and how long that adjustment takes will determine how successful they’ll be.