New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton wasted no time making sweeping changes on his third day back on the job as he has fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and defensive backs coach Ken Flajole. "I personally want to thank Steve and Ken for their contributions during what was an unprecedented 2012 season," Payton said in a statement. "Philosophically we are changing our defense to a 3-4 alignment and right now is the best time to accomplish this transition." The Saints gave up the most yards in a single season in NFL history under Spagnuolo's watch in his first and only season with the Saints. New Orleans also finished 31st in points allowed. "It's very unfortunate, but I guess that's what Sean wanted to do so that's what Sean did," defensive end Will Smith said Thursday night. When asked what he thought about the defense moving to a 3-4 scheme, Smith said, "We were primarily a 3-4 in certain situations last year, and the past two years with Gregg (Williams) we were a form of 3-4. So I mean he (Payton) probably thinks it would probably be the best defense to help the team. That's his take on it. I haven't had a chance to speak to him on it or anybody. He's the head coach and he makes the final call." Spagnuolo couldn't be reached for comment Thursday night, but it sure didn't seem like Spagnuolo knew it was coming Monday afternoon at the Senior Bowl when asked about Payton's eventual return to the Saints saying, "I think that's a great thing. Not a great thing what happened. But when you're away (for so long), I'm really looking forward to have those conversations," Spagnuolo said. "That's what we're all in the business for is to talk football. Build, create, put something together. I think we're all anxious and we're looking forward to that. ... It's so valuable to get a real educated offensive mind to evaluate your defense week in and week out. I'm really looking forward to that with Sean. It's huge." Linebacker Scott Shanle said he has no problem saying it was the right decision. "It's better to make a change than not make a change. ... I'm being brutally honest in that there absolutely were issues with the scheme," Shanle said. "Guys no matter how many years they played, there were things I was being told to do in this scheme that I've never heard of, and I've played for four different defensive coordinators." Shanle said the Saints were more multi-dimensional in the past few seasons than they were in Spagnuolo's scheme where the Saints were strictly a 4-3 defensive scheme. He said staying so strict in a 4-3 defense obviously hurt the production.
Saints Coach Sean Payton fires defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
New Orleans Times-Picayune | Jan 25