The safeties, corners, and ends have looked crisper, and I’d be willing to bet that as the players develop confidence in the wrinkles already introduced, more will be added. Subtle changes though they are, they have been good ones, with the results to prove it.
Roman Harper and ’09 Super Bowl hero Tracy Porter say that the new scheme is markedly different from the one that Gregg Williams implemented, and I am glad that’s the case. Any lingering effects of the bounty scandal will be slowly but surely stripped from the team. It will also be unsettling to opposing teams to see new coverages, new blitzes, and players changing positions based on the scenarios and pace of the game.
You think people had to practice hard for the Saints before? Think about how much more that will be the case this year, while more and more new schemes are introduced. One thing that is comparable between Williams and Spagnuolo is that they both have a very strict attitude that is predicated on psychology and schemes. The importance of getting into the mind of players, especially those on your own team, can not be overstated.
One thing that should remain consistent this year is more of a zone look, that will enable the Saints to face plays instead of reacting to them. Pass rush will be a primary focus, along with press coverage. It’s my personal opinion that the Saints didn’t take enough advantage of the 5 yard rule in recent years, but perhaps they will this year.
Some may look at Steve Spagnuolo and see a former St. Louis Rams coach who struggled to get consistency from his players. I choose to look at his time in New York, as Giants defensive coordinator. Let’s not forget that it was by his careful work that the 2008 season ended quite differently than many anticipated, with the New York Giants Super Bowl victory over the unbeaten New England Patriots.