January 1, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; A detailed view of a New Orleans Saints helmet on the field prior to kickoff of a game against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints Plan to Switch to 3-4 Defense; Fire Steve Spagnuolo


The New Orleans Saints announced that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and secondary coach Ken Flajole have been “relieved of their duties” and the Saints defense will now be heading in a new direction.

Saints head coach Sean Payton announced the news on Thursday and also added that the defense will be switching to a 3-4 defense.

“I personally want to thank Steve and Ken for their contributions during what was an unprecedented 2012 season,” said Payton in a statement on the team’s official website. “Philosophically we are changing our defense to a 3-4 alignment and right now is the best time to accomplish this transition.”

When team’s make the switch to a 3-4 scheme, there can be some difficulties and a transition period that involves finding personnel that is better suited to play in a 30 front. One of the Saints defensive lineman who played on their previous 40 front, Will Smith, said that the transition may not be as difficult as it seems.

“We were primarily a 3-4 in certain situations last year, and the past two years with Gregg [Williams] we were a form of 3-4,” Smith said, per the New Orleans Time Picayune.  “So I mean [Sean Payton] probably thinks it would probably be the best defense to help the team.  That’s his take on it.  I haven’t had a chance to speak to him on it or anybody.  He’s the head coach and he makes the final call.”

The New Orleans defense struggled last season, so they are hoping a change is just what the doctor ordered. It will take time to see if the team can successfully convert to the 3-4 scheme, but it has been done in the past and there is no reason to believe the Saints can’t be the latest to make the switch.

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