It’s been a long time coming for New Orleans Saints fans, who endured perhaps the worst season in 2012 since the inception of the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era Saints in 2006.
Ripped apart after the fallout of the bounty scandal, a head coach-less Saints team fell from the ranks of the NFL elite to a lowly 7-9 after the worst statistical defensive performance in league history.
That performance has been well documented in the media, as has the tragic number of yards compiled against them. The Saints defense allowed 7,042 yards in 2012 which shattered the Baltimore Colts 31-year-old record of 6,793 yards.
But futility always ushers in dramatic change, especially in the NFL, and once Sean Payton was re-installed as head coach his first move was swift as he quickly relieved the architect of that leaky squad by firing defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Afterwards Payton announced he would be diligent in his search for a new defensive coordinator that could revive the defense. But more shocking was his declaration that the Saints would be switching to a 3-4 scheme and abandon the 4-3 they have used for so long.
Out with the old and in with the new.
After and exhaustive search Payton and staff made the decision to bring in the brash Rob Ryan to lead the defense. Ryan had been unceremoniously dismissed from the Dallas Cowboys a few months prior, but what he did bring to the table was intenseness long absent from the defensive sideline and an intimate knowledge of the 3-4 defense.
So now with Payton back at the helm, Rob Ryan’s defensive makeover underway, and a renewed sense of focus throughout the franchise, we get our first look at the 2013 Saints tonight against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here is what you should be watching for in tonight’s game.