Former Giants DC Brings Blueprint To Saints

When the New York Giants defeated the then-unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42, Steve Spagnuolo became a legend. 4 years later, and a head coaching job behind him, he's taking his material to the Big Easy.

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 10-38 record.

   "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 other teams.

   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 even say."


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