Whenever someone starts off an explanation with, “You guys may not believe me…” you know you’re probably in for something that you’re not going to believe. Such is the case this time around as New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo says camp is going smooth despite being without head coach Sean Payton.
Spagnuolo, the former head coach of the Rams, says the team is adjusting well thanks in part to the dry run of it last year when Payton went down with an injury. Still, it’s got to seem pretty odd. We’ll see what kind of effects, if any, it has on the team when the season kicks off.
Steve Spagnuolo joined WIP in Philadelphia with Rickie Ricardo and Ike Reese to discuss the situation involving Andy Reid’s family, the Saints’ unique training camp, if the team is using the penalties placed on it as motivation, getting the defense back to being one of the premiere units in the league and replacement officials.
On everything that has transpired with his friend Andy Reid losing his oldest son:
“Certainly a tough time for the Reid family and Andy. Our hearts go out to him, and prayers, as we always do, but what was so impressive … was the outpour of emotion and affection and loyalty and concern for not only Andy, but his family … was just really, really special. A lot of us had to travel many distances and I just thought it was so impressive, with the people that came, where they came from. And it really is a huge compliment to not only Andy but Garrett and the whole Andy Reid family. I think people need to know that Andy and his family are very, very special people.”
Give us a sense of how camp is going for the Saints as you guys are in a unique situation without the head coach and such:
“You guys may not believe me when I say this, but very, very smooth. And I think it’s a testament not only to the leadership at the top … but really the players and the coaches that have been there. If you go back to last season, there was a little bit of a dry run with this when Sean Payton injured his knee on the sidelines. … Now, nobody ever wants to go into a season or an offseason without their head coach. There’s a great deal of love and respect for Sean. … I look forward to being with him next year, but I really feel like this organization, more than anyone I’ve ever been with, just really has a way with being able to adjust.”
How much of this stuff can you use as motivation or a sort of us-against-the-world mentality?:
“It’s not a talked about every day thing. My guess is, underneath, I would think that we’re all prideful men, that maybe there is a little bit of that. If it’s used as a rallying cry and it helps us win, I’m all for it. But I think that we’re all, right now, just focused on training camp, what training camp’s all about, building a foundation.”
How do you get this defense back to where it once was, especially with a bit of a cloud hanging over the group?:
“I’ve always had a great deal of respect for how they play defense here, all the way back 10 or 15 years ago. … They have been known for great defenses. We don’t ever want to lose that swagger, that physicality that goes with playing great defense. It’s what makes the NFL so great in a lot of ways. I don’t think our guys will veer from that at all.”
What kind of concerns do you have about replacement officials?:
“It’s like anything else. It is what it is. It’s the situation right now. We have to respect it. There’s a process with the whole negotiation issue and we’ll let that play out. In the meantime, right now, these games, we’ll try to play them as clean as we can. Certainly you’ve got young guys out there that haven’t played before that make a lot of mistakes. I guess the only thing would be, you really, as a coaching staff, have to be up on the rules. Because should something be called and you know the rule is different, you have to be on top of it.”