New Orleans Saints new defensive coordinator already on staff?


It’s finally been confirmed, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will take his “blitz” north to the St. Louis Rams to pair himself once more with best friend and colleague Jeff Fisher.

Fisher was hired as the Rams new head coach a week ago, and it’s been rumored since he put himself back on the market that Gregg Williams would follow him wherever he landed — as a defensive coordinator – -and likely the assistant head coach.

Williams just completed the last year of his three year deal in New Orleans and it seems a mutual separation may have always been in order, especially considering his defense collapsed in the playoffs the last two seasons.

Saturday against the 49ers the Saints took a three point lead with 1:37 left in the game — all the defense had to do was make one last final stand.

Instead San Francisco marched 80-yards down the field in a handful of plays to score a game clinching touchdown, and New Orleans was eliminated from the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

But Williams fielded a defense in 2009 that lead the league in takeaways while helping the Saints achieve their first ever Super Bowl Championship.

In contrast the Saints rankled 24th in the NFL in total defense this season, and they have been unable to generate anywhere near the same amount of turnovers as 2009.

Obviously the Saints will have to find a replacement for Williams right away.

Steve Spagnuolo and Mike Nolan are two names that have been mentioned as top candidates to take over, with Spagnuolo likely being their favorite considering he runs the 4-3 scheme the Saint already deploy.

Nolan is known to covet the 3-4, and the Saints may not be so keen to change considering their current personnel.

Also mentioned as a possible replacement is former Saint and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, who fielded a top ten defense with the Carolina Panthers before taking the job in Jacksonville.

But the Saints may look internally for Gregg Williams replacement versus externally.

Assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt and defensive line coach Bill Johnson could get consideration.

Vitt joined the Saints after serving as interim head coach for the final 11 games in St. Louis during the 2005 season, and while he has primarily been a position coach, there is certainly some appeal in giving him a shot.

While the Saints defense as a whole generally has been criticized, the linebackers have always been a relative strength for the Saints, carrying the defense most times and leading the teams in total stops, forced fumbles, and recoveries among other areas

Johnson joined the Saints in 2009 after spending two season with the Denver Broncos, where he helped outside linebacker/defensive end Elvis Dumervil rank sixth in the NFL with 12.5 sacks in 2008.

Saints defensive end Will Smith emerged under Johnson’s tutelage as well, notching a career high 13 sacks in 2009.