New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been fired a day after Head Coach Sean Payton had returned to his job from exile. Defensive backs coach Ken Flajole was let go as well.
Having seen how poorly the Saints’ defense played especially in the first half of the season, I can certainly see where coach Payton is coming from. They were awful and only improved (even then not by much) after coach Vitt was let in from exile after the sixth game of the season. 2012 was Spagnuolo’s first – and last, as it turns out – as DC with the Saints.
Spagnuolo was let go from his head coaching duties in St. Louis in 2011 where his squad won only 2 of their 16 games.
“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.”
Spagnuolo was hired on as DC after the team fired Gregg Williams, who was not only highly implicated in the infamous Bountygate scandal but at the center of it. The Saints’ defense hasn’t been any good at all since their Super Bowl win, and in fact really took a dive last season especially.
There’s a link here that refers you to a story about an “anonymous” Saints player tearing into the coach as being a “my way or the highway” type of personality where players had no say at all in the proceedings. The same player even said “Don’t even get me started on lack (of) ability to adjust during games. Bad, bad, bad.”
Clearly, he wasn’t a popular coach among the players. While a coach doesn’t have to be “popular,” he has to be respected. Many older coaches are this way, and some were quite successful. Having grown up being a Dolphins fan (don’t sue me – the Panthers didn’t exist when I was a child), I certainly recall a man named Don Shula. NONE of his players “liked” the man, but rather highly respected him and bought in to his ideas.
When your defense sets the NFL full-season record for most yards allowed, though, it certainly helps to have the players’ respect. Spagnuolo had neither one and the stats do bear it out.
Now he has no job.
I suppose he’ll have to leave hat tricks to hockey after being fired by St. Louis then New Orleans. He could wind up somewhere as a position coach, but with 2-14 as a head coach and setting records for futility in your profession as a DC, I can’t say I see a stampede of NFL GMs or head coaches trying to hire him. It looks like he’s a rigid-minded coach who alienates his players and cannot make adjustments during games.
Hire me…I can do that much for a quarter of his asking price!
Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye