The Saints finishing the 2012 season with a 7-9 record and missing the playoffs wasn't necessarily a huge surprise considering that they were missing head coach and offensive master mind, Sean Payton, due to suspensions from the Bounty Gate scandal. However, it wasn't the offense that struggled through the majority of the season. Drew Brees and the Saints' offense finished with the second best offense in the league behind the Patriots, averaging 410.9 yards and 28.8 points per game.
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The defense on the other hand, was a massive liability for the Saints. New Orleans finished the season ranked last, giving up 440.1 yards per game and allowed an average of 28.4 points per game. The high-powered offense was only able to do so much, as it were constantly forced to outscore teams with even mediocre offenses.
As a result of the team's inability to stop anyone from scoring this past season, Payton's first order of business was to fire two defensive assistant coaches. On Thursday it was announced that he fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and the team's secondary coach, Ken Flajole.
"I personally want to thank Steve and Ken for their contributions during what was an unprecedented 2012 season," said Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. "Philosophically we are changing our defense to a 3-4 alignment and right now is the best time to accomplish this transition."
Spagnuolo has been in the league since 1999, when he was an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. He worked his way up to head coach for the St. Louis Rams, where he was from 2009 through 2011 before joining the Saints for the 2012 season. Flajole has been coaching defenses in the NFL since 1998 and has coached for the Seahawks and Panthers, was with the Rams with Spagnuolo, and spent the last season with the Saints.
Payton's next order of business will be to find two new defensive assistant coaches to help turn the Saints' defense around before the 2013 season so it isn't such a liability to the team.