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The enduring images from the New Orleans Saints’ 2010 season were a flurry of missed tackles in a first-round playoff loss in Seattle. In 2011, it should have been Drew Brees pumping his fist in the air after breaking Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record. It should have been Jimmy Graham dunking the ball over the crossbar after another touchdown. It could have been Sean Payton hoisting another Lombardi Trophy. Instead, the lasting image of the Saints’ 2011 season will be of Malcolm Jenkins chasing San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis downfield as Davis moved the 49ers into position for the game-winning points in a 36-32 playoff win over the Saints.

Several players said Tuesday that this Saints team was better than the 2009 squad that won the Super Bowl. The Saints just finished one of the most successful seasons in club history. They won a franchise record-tying 13 regular-season games and the NFC South Division title. They set the NFL record for most yards gained in a season. By all accounts, the Saints were one of the three or four best teams in the league. That’s why Saturday’s loss to the 49ers stung so much. The Saints understood a golden opportunity to win a second Super Bowl had eluded them.

Nolan spent the past two seasons as the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator. Last season, the Dolphins had the third-ranked run defense in the NFL, allowing just 95.6 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. His defense also produced 41 sacks which ranked tied for 10th in the NFL. The Falcons had 33 sacks, which ranked 19th. While Nolan is known as a 3-4 coach, the Falcons will remain primarily a 4-3 team. Smith noted that the Falcons have drafted for the 4-3. Nolan has plenty of 4-3 experience, too.

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora has reported that the Saints have schedule an interview with former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo tomorrow as they attempt to replace recently departed defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

The possibility of father and son relocating to New Orleans is genuine and it my have nothing to do with the vacant New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator position under Sean Payton. Three prominent area high school coaches confirm that the Del Rio’s visited their respective schools with the possible intent to transfer.

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Tags: Aubrayo Franklin Brent Grimes Brooks Reed Carl Nicks Carlos Rogers Cliff Avril Drew Brees Gregg Williams Houston Texans Jack Del Rio Jason LaCanfora Jeff Fisher Malcolm Jenkins Mark Ingram Marques Colston Martez Wilson Mercedes-Benz Superdome Mickey Loomis Mike Nolan New England Patriots New Orleans Saints NFL Combine NFL Draft NFL Network Robert Mathis Roman Harper San Francisco 49′ers Shaun Rogers St. Louis Rams Steve Spagnuolo Tony Oden Tracy Porter Vernon Davis

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