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Saints fire Steve Spagnuolo, announce plans for 3-4 defense

Steve Spagnuolo AP

Sean Payton is back as the Saints’ head coach, and his first act is to fire his defensive coordinator and reshape his defense.

The Saints have announced that Payton fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and secondary coach Ken Flajole, and that Payton wants to shift to a 3-4 defense.

I personally want to thank Steve and Ken for their contributions during what was an unprecedented 2012 season,” Payton said in a statement released by the team. “Philosophically we are changing our defense to a 3-4 alignment and right now is the best time to accomplish this transition.”

Spagnuolo replaced Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator a year ago, after Williams left for St. Louis — and before the news broke that the Saints had previously run a bounty program that would result in Payton being suspended for 2012 and Williams being banned indefinitely. Now Payton is back and Spagnuolo is out.

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91 Responses to “Saints fire Steve Spagnuolo, announce plans for 3-4 defense”
  1. mataug says: Jan 24, 2013 6:45 PM

    I don’t understand NFL coaches sometimes. You draft players for a particular scheme and bam suddenly it is thrown out the window.

  2. dabears2485 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:45 PM

    I like it. They’re so screwed up on defense right now that it doesn’t even matter that they don’t have the personnel yet. The personnel they have can’t run a 4-3 effectively. So, why not make the switch? It can’t be wore than what they did this season.

  3. gator2006 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:45 PM

    Hire Gregg!

  4. haterswelcomed says: Jan 24, 2013 6:45 PM

    Stick to Offensive strategy Sean. Your like Mike Vick when it comes to anything defensive related.

  5. pnut87 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:47 PM

    So uh, yeah… Perry Fewell… We enjoyed having you and all…

  6. heywoodjablome says: Jan 24, 2013 6:47 PM

    Come back to Philly Steve.

  7. ravenmuscle says: Jan 24, 2013 6:47 PM

    Now’s Payton’s chance to hire DeGuglielmo to replace Spagnuolo and maybe even hire Gagliomoelto.

  8. Pimpin' aint easy unless you are Chuck Norris says: Jan 24, 2013 6:48 PM

    LMFAO, this dude made a name for himself after a Giants team with a GREAT defensive line played out of their minds in the Super Bowl and won. Since then he has proven that he has no ability to be a successful coach. Proves that talent on the field is what really matters

  9. juanlongwang says: Jan 24, 2013 6:48 PM

    Looks like the Eagles finally have a Defensive Coordinator.

  10. patriotinvasion says: Jan 24, 2013 6:48 PM

    Does 3-4 or 4-3 even matter much anymore? Most teams are in nickel and dime sub defenses 70% of the time anyway.

  11. joshp85 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:51 PM

    Eagles sign this guy now at any cost!

  12. dukemarc says: Jan 24, 2013 6:51 PM

    They don’t have the personnel for that style of defense. Who are the rush ends going to be? Please tell me they’re going to ask Will Smith to try and cover a TE. I assume Vilma would move inside, if he’s back with the team.

    This will also mean they’ll be playing a lot of man coverage on the outside with their less than capable Corners.

    Sounds like a bad Defense is about to get a whole lot worse.

  13. BringBackTheFlex says: Jan 24, 2013 6:52 PM

    You can have Ryan. He can get you the 12th or 15th ranked defense in just 2 years.

  14. dat504 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:53 PM

    Great move Coach Payton, get that bum out of here.

  15. coltzfan166 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:53 PM

    Good. He deserves better than that classless organization.

  16. smurfm69 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:53 PM

    Has Payton been talking to Lovie Smith?

  17. mrlaloosh says: Jan 24, 2013 6:54 PM

    Justified. Worst defense in the HISTORY of the NFL. IT’S ON NOW HATERS!

  18. 3fingerlenny says: Jan 24, 2013 6:54 PM

    Nice Sean canned them after all new coaches hired their staffs

  19. hpeters77 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:55 PM

    great news, new defense. trust me it couldnt get any worse

  20. jaggedmark says: Jan 24, 2013 6:55 PM

    Would like to see the Lions fire Gunther Cunningham, and hire this guy. (same 4-3 scheme)

  21. mrlaloosh says: Jan 24, 2013 6:57 PM

    The rush ends will be Junior Galette and Martez Wilson, Vilma and Lofton in the middle. Still need help in secondary. Revis available? WHO DAT!

  22. nygdefenserules says: Jan 24, 2013 6:58 PM

    I am 95% positive he will be going to the Eagles. Not sure how I feel about that. He orchestrated a great defense for the G-Men. Yes he had a ton of D-line talent, but still stopped the one of the greatest offenses ever.

  23. blackandbluedivision says: Jan 24, 2013 6:58 PM

    Romeo Crennel?!

  24. bkasper2004 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:58 PM

    Saints need to get Lovie Smith ASAP!!!

  25. bucsfan5000 says: Jan 24, 2013 6:59 PM

    Hey Sean, I need a job.

    Signed,
    Rob Ryan

  26. BlackAndGoldAllDay says: Jan 24, 2013 7:00 PM

    Building the next-gen Dome Patrol! Go get ‘em, Sean Payton!

  27. ickky says: Jan 24, 2013 7:02 PM

    3-4
    4-3
    cheaters either way

  28. mdd913 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:02 PM

    Remember these two names: Martez Wilson, Junior Gallette.

  29. noring4youstill says: Jan 24, 2013 7:04 PM

    Well didn’t see that coming oh well our best years of defense where in the Mora days running a 3-4. Maybe we can bring back Swelling, Jackson and Mills.

  30. charitymike says: Jan 24, 2013 7:06 PM

    To all the folks that think we don’t have the players for a 3-4..stick to your own team cause you know nothing.

    NT- Bunkley
    LDE- Jordan
    RDE- Gallette
    Mike- Lofton
    Sam-Hawthorne
    Will-Casillas/Chamberlain
    Jack- “Sack” Tez Wilson

    Get some depth via draft and free agency. It won’t be perfect the first year but can’t be any worse than last year!!

  31. Simon says: Jan 24, 2013 7:07 PM

    It took the Giants half the season before they bought into Steve’s philosophy. They were dominant once they did. The Saints never bought in. C’mon home Steve. Broad and Pattison is calling.

  32. justanotherdummy says: Jan 24, 2013 7:07 PM

    Spags had one good year with the Giants D, which promptly came back two years later to win the Super Bowl again, without him. P Fewell was calling the shots at that point. That suggests to me the NYG defense may have been a result of the good players they had, not the scheme. He failed miserably in St. Louis, and bombed again last season. Perhaps he just isn’t all that good as anything other than a linebackers coach. I suspect he is all hype, and got fat on the efforts of Strahan, Tuck, Osi, etc.

  33. texanfan62 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:08 PM

    Lovie Smith won’t ever be a coordinator again, he’s already been quoted as saying hes taking the year off and waiting for a HC Gig next year. More than likely it will be Romeo Crennel, or if Rob Ryan is available(if the Rams haven’t hired him yet).

  34. sfm073 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:09 PM

    This guys isn’t a good coach. Stay far far away eagles fans.

  35. thebrownrelease says: Jan 24, 2013 7:11 PM

    Mr. Payton, Robert Ryan is on line 1.

  36. mdd913 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:11 PM

    dukemarc says: Jan 24, 2013 6:51 PM

    They don’t have the personnel for that style of defense. Who are the rush ends going to be? Please tell me they’re going to ask Will Smith to try and cover a TE. I assume Vilma would move inside, if he’s back with the team.

    This will also mean they’ll be playing a lot of man coverage on the outside with their less than capable Corners.

    Sounds like a bad Defense is about to get a whole lot worse.

    ——————————————————-

    You don’t have any clue what you’re talking about.

    First off the rush ends will be Martez Wilson and Junior Galette, both are a damn sight better than Will Smith (who will be cut) and etc. and have shown good ability to rush the passer. They also have some young, big bodies to play on the line in Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks and another good two-gap lineman in Bunkley. Two solid inside linebackers in Lofton and Hawthorne, and corners that excel in man coverage and only struggled when switched to a zone style defense.

    If you knew anything about the Saints other than just being a blind hater, you would see that their personnel the last few years has been evolving to more of a 3-4 style since early in the 2011 season and their personnel is probably much better suited to a 3-4 than a 4-3 at this point…..and Sean Payton, who knows about 200,000 times more about football than you, arrived at this conclusion while watching the team play this year.

    But yeah, I’m sure you’re right. *snort*

  37. noring4youstill says: Jan 24, 2013 7:15 PM

    I wonder what ole jerry would take for Ware?

  38. Gordon says: Jan 24, 2013 7:19 PM

    To those people calling for Lovie…he’s a 4-3 cover 2 guy, not a 3-4 guy.

  39. isuhuskie says: Jan 24, 2013 7:19 PM

    Do some of you watch football?

    Regardless, if Lovie Smith says he doesn’t want to be a DC… it wouldn’t matter. Smith does not believe in the 3-4. Lovie is a 4-3, Cover 2 guy. Always has been, always will be.

  40. deathmonkey41 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:21 PM

    As a Rams fan, I can tell you lovie smith and Steve Spagnuolo are highly overrated defensive minds. lovie gets credit for the defensive Monty Kiffin put together in TB and Spagnuolo is living off one game against the Patriots.

  41. charitymike says: Jan 24, 2013 7:23 PM

    Gordon says:
    Jan 24, 2013 7:19 PM
    To those people calling for Lovie…he’s a 4-3 cover 2 guy, not a 3-4 guy.

    __________________________________

    It’s the same people saying we don’t have players to fit 3-4. #rolleyes

  42. upperdecker19 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:23 PM

    Spags won’t be unemployed too long. I hear Andy Reid needs a O-line coach.

  43. airboss37 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:24 PM

    Now lets make some cap room: Get rid of Will Smith (old and expensive), Sedrick Ellis (bust), Vilma (knee), and for God’s Sake please get rid of Roman Harper (worst saftey in the league)! Harper cost us two years of playoff losses (SEA and SF), not to mention the DB move when he hit Steve Smith after he scored! (and I don’t mean Def Back).

  44. riverhorsey says: Jan 24, 2013 7:26 PM

    It was politics. Getting rid of Spags was all about getting the bad taste of 2012 out of the teams mouth.

  45. charitymike says: Jan 24, 2013 7:26 PM

    mrlaloosh says:
    Jan 24, 2013 6:57 PM
    The rush ends will be Junior Galette and Martez Wilson, Vilma and Lofton in the middle. Still need help in secondary. Revis available? WHO DAT!

    ___________________________________

    I would beg to differ. Our corners are man corners. They are not suited for zone hence the suckatude we saw this year.

  46. drgreenstreak says: Jan 24, 2013 7:27 PM

    So Payton’s suspension was NOT a full league year.

  47. 85pmart says: Jan 24, 2013 7:29 PM

    Sean, how ’bout you hire experienced mafia personnel to run the bounty defense next season?

  48. iamwhodat says: Jan 24, 2013 7:35 PM

    I love the move!!! We have the players to run a 3-4 contrary to popular belief.. Lofton, Hawthorne in the middle Junior Galette and Martez Wilson on the outside. The secondary is better suited for man to man then a Cover 4 scheme anyway. Get rid of Harper and you have the making of at least a top 20 defense. That’s all we need to win a Super Bowl with this offense we did it in ’09 with a 25th ranked defense.

  49. sgtr0c says: Jan 24, 2013 7:38 PM

    wow, talk about a scapegoat…

  50. dolphins4 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:38 PM

    Hey Chip hire Spagnuolo asap.He’s a really good defensive coordinator who learned everything off of the great Jim Johnson.

  51. noring4youstill says: Jan 24, 2013 7:44 PM

    Move Roman to LB.

  52. maritime85 says: Jan 24, 2013 7:45 PM

    Stay the f away from the nfc east unless yea giants get him

  53. cowboycjn says: Jan 24, 2013 7:47 PM

    Sure glad Sean only took 3 days to weed out the trash.
    As for the haters making smart- $** comments about the Saints – I still say its because the fear of the Saints getting strong and beating your team is the driving force.
    The man is back in control – he has plenty of time to select replacements, the draft and picking up free agents. N.O has always been good at free agents that no one else wants or thinks has talent and developing them into red hot players. So all you doubters- give it time and watch us grow.
    Geaux Saints.

  54. iamwhodat says: Jan 24, 2013 7:48 PM

    Philly please hire Spags and give these Eagles fans what they want. Nmadi is a bump and run style corner and Rogers-Cromartie is better suited for man to man. A Cover 4 scheme is not for everyone just ask the Rams. Spags had a hall of fame type of line with Strahan, Umenyori (spell check) and Tuck, that’s who made Spags.. Just ask the Rams.

  55. nwofolife says: Jan 24, 2013 7:54 PM

    Haha Saints are a joke. It doesn’t matter if you run the 3-4, 4-3, 4-6, Tampa 2 or go man to man. You have crap on defense in the Big Sleazy as I like to call it. Their ain’t no “D” in New Orleans Saints. Harper and his grey hair is terrible, Will Smith and Vilma are senior citizens. That team is so one dimensional its ridiculous.

  56. gsomatt says: Jan 24, 2013 7:56 PM

    For you football geniuses that are calling for Lovie Smith… Smith likes Tampa 2 which is close to a 4-3. He won’t be coaching a 3-4 team any time soon.

  57. anebriated says: Jan 24, 2013 8:00 PM

    PLEASE DONT COME BACK TO PHILLY! He rode the coattails of Jim Johnson while he was here. Used that to land the cushy job with the Giants where he barely had to do anything as a coach. Then when he was actually tested after leaving the Giants he failed miserably as a head coach and then again as a DC. I want nothing to do with him right now. He might turn out to be successful but this isnt the right move for the Eagles right now.

  58. steelpalace302 says: Jan 24, 2013 8:06 PM

    Sean had all year to sit back and watch his team. He also had all year to listen to his coaches interviews. Moral of the story watch what you say when the cats away because he will be back. lol

  59. SparkyGump says: Jan 24, 2013 8:10 PM

    Seem to me a 4-3 is a better defense against the read option teams out there.

  60. lennydpocketqb says: Jan 24, 2013 8:14 PM

    That’s a shame. The Saints were such a mess last year. It feels like Spags didn’t get a chance. I hope he lands with a team with less drama soon.

  61. doubleogator says: Jan 24, 2013 8:15 PM

    Threefingerlenny,

    Payton would have fired them 3 weeks ago but he was not reinstated yet, he fired them after being back on the job a little over an hour. Anyway how many teams want coaches that just coached a defense that set a record for the most yardage given up in NFL history, maybe your favorite team might…

  62. ilovefoolsball says: Jan 24, 2013 8:17 PM

    drgreenstreak says:
    Jan 24, 2013 7:27 PM
    So Payton’s suspension was NOT a full league year.
    _______
    Go cry to your mama about that if you want sympathy.

  63. mungman69 says: Jan 24, 2013 8:17 PM

    Steve: Philly needs you.

  64. slickster35 says: Jan 24, 2013 8:26 PM

    Good luck with Romeo.

    He should have retired 5 years ago.

  65. orivar says: Jan 24, 2013 8:28 PM

    Their D has been bad for a couple of seasons now.

  66. jessethegreat says: Jan 24, 2013 8:31 PM

    So Wilma will be looking for a new team now?

  67. DonRSD says: Jan 24, 2013 8:59 PM

    Come back to NYG

  68. cunninghampeetemcnabbvick says: Jan 24, 2013 9:06 PM

    Eagles already have a DC but have to wait until after Superbowl to anounce it as it is San Frans secondary coach. I can’t rember his name. We know from senior bowl coverage that Eagles have hired their entire staff most of which are already meeting with draft prospects.

  69. bats13 says: Jan 24, 2013 9:06 PM

    How about Brian Van Gorder?

  70. theuglitruth says: Jan 24, 2013 9:22 PM

    scapegoat….just set that sad and complaining organization back another season. Making the switch isn’t that easy!

  71. sariff420 says: Jan 24, 2013 9:27 PM

    People have such short term memories. Isnt this the same defense that stank just a year before with Greg Williams? Also Jonathan Vilma didn’t play in at least half the games. And Spags getting fired was justified after just one year? Yeah ok

  72. materialman80 says: Jan 24, 2013 9:28 PM

    The Saints sucked so bad on defense this year something had to be done.

  73. realfootballfan says: Jan 24, 2013 9:56 PM

    At least Payton is smart. Spagnulo was a disaster this year and quite frankly, is a bit overrated as a coordinator if you ask me.

  74. yourignorancespreads says: Jan 24, 2013 10:13 PM

    I love the people who say we don’t have good players on defense when the whole squad minus porter and sharper were still there from the past three years and were good and spags comes in and murders our defense and all of a sudden out guys can’t play. Well I call BS. Thank god Payton is back and fired spags. And those bums everyone says cant play def will be here kicking ass next year. I would love to see Williams comeback. Or lovie smith come here. CHAMPIONSHIP

  75. saintmac9 says: Jan 24, 2013 10:14 PM

    Thought he would of got atleast another year but I trust Payton. I hope vilma stays he has 1 or 2 more years in him.

  76. hor2012 says: Jan 24, 2013 10:34 PM

    SparkyGump says:
    Jan 24, 2013 8:10 PM
    Seem to me a 4-3 is a better defense against the read option teams out there.

    I disagree. To match up with these spread teams you need as much speed on the field as you can get. The extra LB gives you the ability was defend the with of the field better that a fourth down lineman

  77. hor2012 says: Jan 24, 2013 10:38 PM

    nwofolife says:
    Jan 24, 2013 7:54 PM
    Haha Saints are a joke. It doesn’t matter if you run the 3-4, 4-3, 4-6, Tampa 2 or go man to

    I bet you’re a coward. You probably got beat up on the school yard a lot. That’s why you have to result to insults about a city you probably have never been in before. You’re sad and I bet you father wished he had used a better form of protection when you were conceived

  78. worldchampsbaby says: Jan 24, 2013 10:46 PM

    Please Coach Coughlin bring Spags back home to the NYG the only professional football team in NJ.Please dump Fewell!!

  79. thelastpieceofcheese says: Jan 24, 2013 10:53 PM

    It won’t matter whether you play a 3-4 or 4-3 if your players are bums.

  80. redthomas25 says: Jan 24, 2013 11:40 PM

    If they are serious about this, then they will hire Keith Butler. He and Lebeau now the 3-4 defense better than anyone.

  81. musicman495 says: Jan 24, 2013 11:54 PM

    riverhorsey says: Jan 24, 2013 7:26 PM

    It was politics. Getting rid of Spags was all about getting the bad taste of 2012 out of the teams mouth.
    ————————–
    Uh, giving up 7,000 of offense ain’t just politics.

  82. hitit49 says: Jan 24, 2013 11:55 PM

    It took 7 years or drafting and three head coaches to make the 49ers switch to a 3-4 work

  83. patssteelersorgiants says: Jan 25, 2013 12:05 AM

    Is anyone still using a 4-3?? I thought that went out with leather helmets and drop kicks?

  84. 1509lucky says: Jan 25, 2013 12:14 AM

    Eagles won’t touch him and rightfully so. Bringing him in would be taking a Giant step backwards.

  85. cnola23 says: Jan 25, 2013 12:20 AM

    The new saints defensive coach will be Ray Lewis!

  86. jameslongstaffe says: Jan 25, 2013 1:21 AM

    The best D I have seen in my opinion, was a 3-4. Also better suited to athletic QB’s.

  87. axespray says: Jan 25, 2013 1:59 AM

    It makes sense considering this draft class is loaded with 3-4 players
    (Nosetackles/Outside Linebackers).

  88. samapoc says: Jan 25, 2013 5:41 AM

    It won’t matter what defense scheme is used if Drew Brees can’t stop throwing interceptions.

  89. halbert53 says: Jan 25, 2013 7:20 AM

    Any new pass defense will be better than the Cover 0 they used this past season. Get rid of some deadwood, add a few SEC defenders, and Saints will be in thick of things next season. There’s a glut of defensive players in the draft, including most of LSU’s starters, so Saints should be able to load up.

  90. dukemarc says: Jan 25, 2013 1:12 PM

    mdd913 says:
    Jan 24, 2013 7:11 PM
    dukemarc says: Jan 24, 2013 6:51 PM

    They don’t have the personnel for that style of defense. Who are the rush ends going to be? Please tell me they’re going to ask Will Smith to try and cover a TE. I assume Vilma would move inside, if he’s back with the team.

    This will also mean they’ll be playing a lot of man coverage on the outside with their less than capable Corners.

    Sounds like a bad Defense is about to get a whole lot worse.

    ——————————————————-

    You don’t have any clue what you’re talking about.

    First off the rush ends will be Martez Wilson and Junior Galette, both are a damn sight better than Will Smith (who will be cut) and etc. and have shown good ability to rush the passer. They also have some young, big bodies to play on the line in Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks and another good two-gap lineman in Bunkley. Two solid inside linebackers in Lofton and Hawthorne, and corners that excel in man coverage and only struggled when switched to a zone style defense.

    If you knew anything about the Saints other than just being a blind hater, you would see that their personnel the last few years has been evolving to more of a 3-4 style since early in the 2011 season and their personnel is probably much better suited to a 3-4 than a 4-3 at this point…..and Sean Payton, who knows about 200,000 times more about football than you, arrived at this conclusion while watching the team play this year.

    But yeah, I’m sure you’re right. *snort*
    ———————–

    Enjoy giving up 30+ points a game next year

    And yeah, Payton sure knows a lot of Defense – unless it’s cheap-shoting the other team’s QB or selling out with all out blitzes, the Saints haven’t had a good defense since Pat Swilling was roaming the field.

  91. kev86 says: Jan 25, 2013 6:28 PM

    G-Men dropped a 50 bomb on the Aints this year. Sorry bout that Spags. Thanks for the legendary playoff run in 07 and tremendous game plan against the 18-0 Patsies in the SB. Wear your ring proud.

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