New Orleans Saints All-Time Coaching Staff

New Orleans Saints (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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Former Saints assistant coach Dick Stanfel. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images.
Former Saints assistant coach Dick Stanfel. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images. /

New Orleans Saints All-Time Coaching Staff

Offensive Line Coach: Dick Stanfel (1976-1979, 1997-1998)

Dick Stanfel, who was inducted into the NFL’s Hall of Fame in 2016, served as the Saints offensive line coach in two stints spanning some two decades apart.

Stanfel first arrived in New Orleans in 1976 alongside newly minted Saints coach Dick Nolan, and his tenure with the team concluded with a 1980 season in which Stanfel served as interim head coach for the final seven games following Nolan’s in-season firing.

Little did he know at the time, but it was Stanfel’s decision in 1981 to accept a position as offensive line coach for the Chicago Bears that would put into motion his eventual return to New Orleans.

The change of scenery initially did little to improve Stanfel’s on-field success, with his new team yielding a rather Nolan-ian 6-10 record in his first season in Chicago. His fortunes began to change when head coach Neill Armstrong was jettisoned at season’s end.

Stanfel was retained by incoming Bears (and future Saints) head coach Mike Ditka, and over the ensuing decade would direct one of the game’s very best offensive fronts while claiming a Super Bowl title for his efforts.

Stanfel’s offensive line cleared the way for a 1,000 yard rusher in eight of his 10 years spent on Ditka’s staff, with the great Walter Payton accounting for five such seasons and his successor as the Bears’ feature back, Neal Anderson, eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in three consecutive seasons from 1988 through 1990.

Stanfel exited Chicago along with Ditka after the 1992 season, and remained out of coaching for five league seasons before rejoining Ditka in an attempt to replicate their Bears success in New Orleans.

While the duo, and the team at large, failed to attain success with the Saints, Stanfel’s group paved the way for a successful rookie showing from Saints back Ricky Williams before the then-73 year old coach would retire with his reputation as an NFL offensive line guru intact.

Honorable Mention: Paul Boudreau (1987-1993), Doug Marrone (2006-2008)

New Orleans Saints All-Time Coaching Staff

Defensive Line: Ryan Nielsen (2017-present)

Ryan Nielsen had coached the likes of Greg Hardy and Bradley Chubb at the collegiate level before he was chosen to replace Bill Johnson as the defensive line coach in New Orleans. Johnson, who was let go along with four of his peers in the wake of a 2016 season that saw the team finish with a 7-9 record for the third consecutive season, had overseen the defensive front since joining head coach Sean Payton’s original Saints staff in 2006.

Nielsen inherited a group that helped the New Orleans defense allow the second most points in the NFL, while finishing 27th out of 32 league teams in sacks in the season prior to his arrival.

Whether due to superior coaching, better players, good luck or (perhaps most likely) some combination of the above, the performance of the Saints defensive front would improve dramatically under Nielsen’s tutelage.

While the group’s efforts versus the run would catapult to the top of the league in Nielsen’s second year – beginning an ongoing three season stretch in which the Saints would finish no worse than top four league-wide in rushing defense – the team vaulted 20 ranking spots (from 27th to 7th) in the new coach’s first season in terms of quarterback sacks.

Honorable Mention: John Pease (1986-1994, 2004-2005), Willie Zapalac (1981-1985)