Spagnuolo hits ground running for Saints
Even though there had been no official
announcement by his new team, Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo rolled up his sleeves for his first day on the job Monday
when Senior Bowl activities got under way in Mobile, Ala.
The 52-year-old Spagnuolo agreed on Jan. 19 to
take over for Gregg Williams, who left the Saints after three seasons
to join the staff of new St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher last week.
Spagnuolo was fired after three years as the Rams head coach on Jan. 2,
following a 2-14 season.
It didn't take long, however, for Saints coach
Sean Payton to zero in on Spagnuolo as a replacement for Williams. Just
one day after Williams left, Payton said he would take his time looking
for a new defensive coordinator but the next day interviewed Spagnuolo
and apparently offered him the job.
Saints' fans are excited about what Spagnuolo
brings to the table. Even though his teams struggled in St. Louis, he's
most renowned as the former defensive coordinator of the New York Giants who was the architect of the game plan that took down the
then-unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The Giants harassed Tom Brady all day and an
explosive Patriots' offense that averaged more than 36 points a game
during the 2007 season was held down in a 17-14 setback that ruined
their bid for perfection.
After two seasons with the Giants, who ranked in
the top 10 in fewest yards allowed both years (seventh in 2007 and
fifth in '08), Spagnuolo earned his shot to be a head coach with the
Rams. But things didn't work out and he finished his stay there with a
"I've been to the highest of highs and lowest of
lows in the past three or four weeks," Spagnuolo said. "I'm very
blessed that when this thing happened in St. Louis, the phone did ring.
"There's times when something like this happens
and the phone doesn't ring, but I was very, very blessed to have some
opportunities," added Spagnuolo, who was on the radar of at least three
One of the teams that appeared to show some
interest was the Philadelphia Eagles, where he coached under legendary
defensive coordinator Jim Johnson before going to the Giants.
Spagnuolo takes over a Saints' defensive unit that
gave up touchdown drives of 80 and 85 yards in the final four minutes
of a disappointing 36-32 setback to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC
Divisional Playoffs on Jan. 14. But Spagnuolo said he hasn't had time
to form opinions about that group.
"I don't know if I'm the right person to answer
that," he said when asked about where his new team might upgrade the
defense. "I'm not deep enough into the evaluations and the players,
etc. All I've done is visited with Coach Payton. I had a chance to meet
most or all of the defensive coaches, so it would be unfair for me to
Former Giants DC Brings Blueprint To Saints
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