Found September 03, 2012 on The Saints Nation:
St_louis_rams_dc14
When the Saints hired Steve Spagnuolo to run their defense, the major hope was that they were getting an elite defensive mind minus the pay for performance program (and perhaps more) that came with some. "Spags" brings a new scheme and mindset with him, though the term that best describes his style isn't disimilar from the previous regime: aggressive. The main difference is less blitzing and less man coverage, while still putting major emphasis on getting to the quarterback. The reality of the NFL is most coaches have decent systems and most will work with the right personnel if the players buy into it. If you don't believe me, look how much success the Saints had in year one in Gregg Williams' scheme, and how much they struggled thereafter. It's not like Gregg Williams magically transformed himself from a superstar coach to a bad one in one year. There are so many variables that factor into a team having success, but the bottom line is it's the players carrying out the scheme and they are the ones that ultimately have control on performance. Obviously the Saints felt the talent level on defense was lacking as we saw a roster tweak this offseason.

Coming into the season opener this Sunday against the Redskins...  the Saints will feature four new starters. The difference is just three if you consider Will Smith will come back to start once his suspension is over. That's both significant and surprising, as the changes are big by name but low by volume. The defensive backfield will remain the exact same minus Tracy Porter, but by the end of last season Patrick Robinson had already asserted himself as a superior player. The Saints will count on Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper, Jabari Greer and Robinson, all guys they trusted going into the playoffs a year ago. The new "starters" if you will, are at two of three linebacker spots (Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne) and defensive tackle (Brodrick Bunkley). Will Smith will cede his starting spot for four games as mentioned, most likely to a combination of Turk McBride/Junior Galette, before regaining his deserved place the moment he returns. Ironically the one guy Saints fans have always viewed as most replaceable, Scott Shanle, is once again entranched in the starting lineup. Bunkley, Lofton and Hawthorne will dramatically improve run support and tackling, but they'll do very little to improve coverage and pressure on the quarterback. So the message is simple: the Saints believe the talent they have on defense is enough to have success if they can simply stop the run. Bunkley, Hawthorne and Lofton will help them do that. Whether or not the plan is sound is a different question. The big question remains: are McBride/Smith/Cam Jordan/Martez Wilson/Galette good enough to get to the quarterback on their own with less blitzing? That is what it will take for this defense to be successful. If the answer is no, expect a similar experience to what we suffered through as fans in the last two years of the Gregg Williams defense. Ironically, the success of this defense rests largely on those five players, five players the Saints had on their roster a year ago who didn't perform well. Granted, the Saints have the luxury of counting on those five for success because we can largely take for granted that, if healthy, Bunkley/Hawthorne/Lofton will combine to make a massive upgrade over the 2011 version of Aubrayo Franklin/Jo-Lonn Dunbar/Jonathan Vilma. But while the Saints fixed some holes, makes no mistake, they're also relying on the growth and improvement of guys that struggled last season. 

[follow] 
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Hot New Orleans Saints Cheerleaders (Pictures)

Hot New Orleans Saints Cheerleaders.  Today's cheerleaders are from the NFC South and hail from New Orleans.  The Saints are the perfect team to represent the NFL on Labor Day and their ladies didn't let us down.  They are some of the hottest in the league.  Check out the hot pictures below. Check...

Report: Saints' Payton opens up in interview

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has said very little publicly since beginning his season-long suspension in April for his part in the bounty scandal. But in an extensive interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Mike Triplett, Payton noted he has watched the Saints' preseason games and taken notes on the games. Payton is running the offense for his son&...

Sean Payton says his sixth grade team is running the Saints offense

Sean Payton is currently serving his one-year suspension from the NFL, but he’s still coaching. Of course, not on a major level. Sean has become more of a family man and turned down gigs on broadcasting networks around the league to spend more time with his kids. Payton sat down with the New Orleans Times-Picayune Tuesday and gave an idea of what he’s been doing as NFL Camps...

Saints Nation: Thoughts On Saints' Captains

The team voted on their captains and the guys empowered by their teammates with the C on their chest will be Drew Brees and Zach Strief on offense, Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper on defense and Courtney Roby on special teams. It's a little weird having Jenkins and Harper as the captains for the D, but they're the seniormost members of the unit with Jonathan Vilma and Will...

Report: Saints' Loomis, Vitt begin serving suspensions Monday

New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and interim head coach Joe Vitt will begin serving their suspensions Monday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Sunday. There was some consideration of delaying the suspensions because of the problems brought by Hurricane Isaac, but the suspensions will be carried out as scheduled. Loomis is suspended for the first eight...

Saints sign 8 to practice squad

The Saints have signed eight players to their practice squad, including rookie safety Jerico Nelson, tight end Michael Higgins and receiver Andy Tanner. Nelson grew up in suburban New Orleans and played at Arkansas. The 6-foot-5, 242-pound Higgins spent part of 2011, his rookie season, on both the Saints' practice squad and active roster, appearing in two regular-season games...

Kromer formally takes over Saints' coaching staff

Aaron Kromer has begun his six-game stint handling head coaching duties for the Saints by providing his team with a dose of perspective. Kromer says whatever adversity the Saints must overcome because of suspensions related to the NFL's bounty investigation pales in comparison to fans whose homes were flooded by Hurricane Isaac. The coach says the Saints still have talent,...

The Saints are the most inspired team in the NFL

New Orleans Saints players Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Devery Henderson are motivated to return to the Super Bowl after an offseason full of controversy and turmoil.

Saints Nation: Saints Sign Jerome Murphy in Favor of Elbert Mack

The roster tweaks have been plentiful in the last 24 hours, and after Rafael Bush the Saints have added another new face to their defensive backfield. This time it's Jerome Murphy, formerly of the Saint Louis Rams. Murphy was waived during final cuts by the Rams and the Saints snatched him for their 53 man roster in favor of Elbert Mack - who is now no longer on the roster....

Tulane's Johnson hospitalized during practice

Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson has been hospitalized after struggling with symptoms of apparent heat exhaustion during Tuesday's practice. University officials say Johnson was taken to the hospital to be evaluated as a precaution. The 50-year-old Johnson, a New Orleans-area native, is in his first season at Tulane after spending the past six years as wide receivers coach...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.