The Saints defense was a mess all season, continuing a trend that started in 2011 and showing very little improvement over the course of Steve Spagnuolo’s first season as coordinator.
There’s been pretty widespread support in New Orleans for Spagnuolo in the wake of the end of the season, but Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune spoke to one member of the Saints defense who was less enamored with the work Spagnuolo did this year. We don’t know the identity of the player, but he gave a “resounding” yes when asked if Spagnuolo should be relieved of his duties.
“To give up what we gave up can’t be all talent. Look at where his units (have) been ranked before. I think one top 10? Players have no say in anything,” the player said. “It was (a) complete opposite from before where it was a simple D that players had lot of control and say. We couldn’t suggest (expletive)…Nothing ever changed. It was his way only. Don’t even get me started on lack (of) ability to adjust during games. Bad, bad, bad.”
The Saints ranked last in total defense and were at or near the bottom in most metrics over the course of the season. The anonymous player went on to say that the problems went beyond on-field results with a coach who made it hard to put on a “supportive, everything’s-going-to-be-OK face.”
Trust me all the guys were being politically correct this season when answering questions. It’s bad,” the player said. “He does have that good-guy persona, but he is a control freak and treats people like crap. (Spagnuolo has) no patience and zero personality. (He) has a way of pissing players and our defensive coaches off with how he says and does things. (I) think it’s even harder after having (former defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams), who guys enjoyed.”
Spagnuolo doesn’t appear to be in danger of being fired at this point, although that’s certainly a scathing review of his work. The Saints had plenty of obstacles to overcome heading into the season, but the defense was bad enough that the season might have gone in a pretty similar direction without all the chaos related to the bounty suspensions. Spagnuolo will have to make serious improvements in Year Two if he’s going to make it to a third year.