While the word bounty continues to fill most of the offseason news when it comes to the New Orleans Saints, it shouldn’t be overlooked that the Saints have been busy installing a new defense. They brought in former St. Louis head coach Steve Spagnuolo to overhaul a defense that ranked mostly in the middle of the road in the major defensive statistics last season.
Spagnuolo really jumped on the scene when he coached the New York Giants’ defense that stopped the undefeated Patriots and Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. The suspensions surrounding the bounty program situation could make things interesting in terms of personnel, but once the Saints settle in, it will be interesting to see the impact Spagnuolo has.
Steve Spagnuolo joined WWL in New Orleans with Bobby and Kristian to discuss installing his system, his approach on defense, his Giants defense that thwarted the Patriots, surprising opposing quarterbacks and Saints fans.
How’s the installation going? Is everybody picking up the new scheme?:
“Yeah, the installation is thick now and the volume is starting to pile on. But we talked with the guys a lot about that and quite honestly would’ve cut back. I’ve been very impressed at what these guys have been able to pick up. We thought we take it and see what they could absorb and because they’ve been absorbing it pretty well, we’ve kind of added on.”
Is your approach a little more sound or perhaps conservative than that of Gregg Williams?:
“There’s all kinds of defenses in this league and there’s a bunch of good ones. To me, defensive football just comes back to good, talented football players and guys with an attack mentality. When we talk about when you start to venture into [talking] philosophically about defense, I think in this league I’m never going to get away from stop the run first and pressure the quarterback. You do those two things, I think you’ve got a chance of being successful. … We’ll find out what our players do really well and we’ll try to wrap our defense around that.”
On making a name for himself with his New York Giants defense that beat Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl:
“I don’t remember exactly the number [of sacks] but the most important thing was we hit the quarterback a lot and that helped us out toward the end of the game. That’s a perfect example of a game that we brought a bunch of pressure and we ran some four-man rush, but we said that the guy that was important to their team was the quarterback and if we didn’t affect him, it was going to be a long day. I thought if we held them to under 30 it was a good day.”
On surprising the quarterback and not giving him time to throw:
“We’ll do a little bit of both. But we do believe in big guys. If we could put seven of them out there at one time, we’d do it. Nowadays in football, they put too many skill guys out on the field, so you can’t get away with it. But I agree with you 100 percent, if you’re able to generate a pass rush, get the quarterback off his spot, get him to throw the ball quicker than he really wants to with four guys, you’ve got seven guys covering, so it works out pretty good. But I do think you need to mix it up.”
How have the fans been for you?:
“I think they’re terrific. They’re very respectful, which we always appreciate. They were great here in this mini-camp. I thought that was a great thing, having the people here and I think it energized the guys. We’re looking forward to it.”