Life Without Steve Spagnuolo

Let me start by saying that I hate to see Steve Spagnuolo go.

After covering the former Saints defensive coordinator for a year it’s easy to see why he’s very well regarded in NFL circles. The man is classy in every way.  No matter how poorly his defenses played last season he faced the media each and every week and was the definition of professions. 

Unfortunately the old cliche holds true when talking about Steve Spagnuolo’s short tenure with the Saints — good guys finish last.

That said, I do love the fact that Sean Payton is switching from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 scheme.

Growing up in New Orleans I of course remember the “dome patrol” days and Jim Mora’s great 3-4 defense.  

I, like many, believe that the Saints personnel better fits a 3-4 system.

Blitz specialists Martez Wilson and Junior Galette seem like perfect 3-4 outside linebackers.  Cam Jordan and Akiem Hicks would work perfectly as 3-4 defensive ends.  I look at Hicks and see a Haloti Ngata type skill set.  Jordan played and excelled as a 3-4 end at Cal-Berkeley.   

So, looking at the Saints defense for 2013 — here are some questions and answers:

Who’ll be the new defensive coordinator?

Two guys I’ll be following closely. 

Winston Moss/associated head coach/Green Bay Packers

Corey Chamblin/head coach/Saskatchewan Roughriders 

Moss is a former NFL linebacker who’s helped Don Capers with the Packers 3-4 system.  Chamblin is a young, defensive-orientated coach who seems ready to make a move to the NFL as a coordinator.

Can the Saints find a defensive play maker in the 2013 NFL Draft? Yes!

The Saints have the 15th overall pick in the 1st round of the NFL draft.  Players who may be available at #15 and who’d be nice fits in the Saints new 3-4 system:

Dion Jordan/OLB/Oregon

Barkevious Mingo/OLB/LSU

Jesse Williams/NT/Alabama

It would not surprise me one bit to see Sean Payton and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis trade up in the 1st round in an attempt to land a more highly coveted player.  If the Saints trade up they’ll no doubt select one of two players:

Star Lotulelei/NT/Utah

Jarvis Jones/OLB/Georgia

To land Lotulelei or Jones the Saints would probably have to trade into the top 5 of the draft — which will cost them a ton in compensation — but which may be worth it.  Trading back and picking up additional picks is also an option but considering the Saints have never really gone that route it would be surprising to see them do that.  But, if the Saints trade back and acquire a 2nd round pick two names to remember are:

John Simon/OLB/Ohio State

Alex Okafor/OLB/Texas

Personally, I’d love to see a 3-4 defensive line of Akien Hicks, Star Lotulelei and Cam Jordan.

I my WDSU mock draft I had the Saints taking Ziggy Ansah from BYU.  Ansah is a raw defensive end prospect and a guy I still really like, but most think Ansah would be a better fit in a 4-3 defense — so my mock draft will change. 

Can the Saints upgrade the defense via free agency?

Yes.  Loomis is a master when it comes to working the salary cap.  The Saints have always been able to acquire the talent they want.  Two players who could be on the teams radar when free agency starts:

Isaac Sopoaga/NT/49ers

Paul Kruger/OLB.Ravens

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