When the New Orleans Saints faced an off-season of incredible strife and turmoil ahead of them, I was somewhat concerned about how they would carry themselves. At the forefront in my mind was how the coaches would respond, especially Steve Spagnuolo.
When Spags came to New Orleans, he took on the unenviable task of replacing Gregg Williams. That’s not to say that Willams was irreplaceable, because no one would want his drama surrounding their team. However, Williams was viewed as an incredible defensive mind whose knowledge would be tough to match.
I have been pleasantly surprised by Steve Spagnuolo and the philosophy he has brought to the New Orleans Saints defense. With him, Spagnuolo has brought an underlying mentality that his players are capable of doing things they have never done.
Most importantly here is the fact that he believes in his defenders. A very important characteristic in building up someone’s confidence isn’t just telling them the old cliche, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” It involves a consistent commitment to proving that that statement is rooted in the belief that that person truly can do it.
Steve Spagnuolo was quoted earlier this offseason saying, “That’s part of coaching and doing it right…When you put the scheme in, you’re still deciding along the way what they can and can’t do. I don’t have all those answers right now.” He isn’t trying to be a world-beater by stating that he’s figured things out and has all the answers. He’s also humble, in that he can admit that he needs help – not only from fellow coaches, but help that comes from the commitment and work ethic of his defenders.
It is very refreshing to see that Steve Spagnuolo carries with him a newness, and that he isn’t fearful of change or going with the masses. He has already created plenty of speculation that his plan won’t work, by moving the ultra-quick, lanky Martez Wilson from linebacker to defensive end. This creates a speed rushing element that the Saints have not enjoyed since pairing Charles Grant with Will Smith.