New Orleans Saints
As fans try to figure out how the New Orleans Saints became the last winless team in the NFC, much of the blame has been attributed to the defense. The combination of a lack of playmakers coupled with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's new scheme had the Saints' defense ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed through Week 2.
However, some fans have latched on to a similarity between Spagnuolo's defenses with the Saints and New York Giants. As the Giants' new defensive coordinator in 2007, Spagnuolo's squad gave up 80 points in its first two games. In 2012, New Orleans has allowed 75 points so far. And as most fans know, the Giants won the Super Bowl in Spagnuolo's first season.
But for Saints' fans to draw any comparisons between Steve Spagnuolo's Giants' defense and his squad in New Orleans is like comparing Louisiana seafood to New England clam chowder and lobster.
Saints and Giants defenses
To truly compare Spagnuolo's defenses in New Orleans and New York requires a look back at each squad the season before he took over. Honestly, Saints' fans don't need me to reference a lot of stats. All I need to mention is how the Saints made Alex Smith look like Joe Montana in the playoffs.
In 2006, the Giants were 8-8 and didn't have a great defense either. In fact, the 2011 Saints and 2006 Giants were ranked 24th and 25th respectively in yards allowed. But as New Orleans fans know, there is a much more important stat than yards allowed when it comes to determining a defense's effectiveness.
The year before Steve Spagnuolo helped the Giants win the Super Bowl, New York's defense forced 28 turnovers. The Giants also had veteran Michael Strahan and an emerging star in Osi Umenyiora on the defensive line. New Orleans, on the other hand, forced a paltry 16 turnovers and had no significant pass rush threat in 2011.
I agree that like the Giants, Spagnuolo's Saints are struggling as they learn a new scheme. And I believe New Orleans will improve as the 2012 season unfolds. However, any fan who believes Spagnuolo's Saints' defense will finish the season ranked seventh (as the Giants were in 2007) is delusional.
Steve Spagnuolo is an outstanding coordinator and New Orleans' struggles have nothing to do with him. Fans must face the reality that Sean Payton's regime has focused more heavily on offensive scouting and player development than the defense. I'm certainly not complaining because his plan won New Orleans a Super Bowl. Just don't expect Steve Spagnuolo to work any miracles with this defense.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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