This upcoming season will be one of change, especially on defense with New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and new personnel. One of the biggest changes will be linebacker Curtis Lofton who will be the “Man in the Middle”.
Gone is Jonathan Vilma, who will be suspended for the season – in comes Curtis Lofton. Most already know what he is capable of, seeing him on the opposite side of the field twice a year. However, under Spagnuolo, there is even more reason for optimism.
I don’t think that it would be too far fetched to say that Lofton is, in many ways, more suited for the middle man in this defense than the man he is replacing (Vilma). He is four years younger than Vilma (Lofton – 28, Vilma – 32), and actually seems to get better every year.
He is more in the prime of his career, and it may be scary to think that his best days are ahead of him. An advantage that Lofton has over Vilma is his size. He packs a punch that carries 11 more pounds behind it, and seems to have a better pure tackling ability than Vilma.
He will wrap up instead of going for the big hit – something that this Saints defense has lacked in the past. He will be a disruptive force in the middle of this defense and will be counted on to come up big in key situations. His athletic ability and size will also help him to endure the 16 game grind that is the NFL season.
In terms of leadership, it cannot be questioned that the Saints will definitely miss Vilma. He was the stalwart of this defense for years, a captain that could be counted on.