Payton knew he had to replace Williams quickly if he was to get a return to the Super Bowl so he hired Steve Spagunolo, who had just been terminated as Rams head coach, but had success coaching defenses with the Eagles and the Super Bowl champion Giants.
Spagnuolo's defenses put pressure on quarterbacks with the front four and letting the back seven focus on pass coverage and run support.
The Saints lost suspended middle linebacker Jon Vilma for a season and their best defensive lineman Will Smith for four games because of the bounty program.
The Saints added free agent Curtis Lofton from the Falcons because he wanted to play for a team with a chance to go to the Super Bowl. The Falcons didn't think he could be effective on third-down passing situations.
Vilma played on an injured knee last season and managed to play in only 10 games because of the knee. Lofton is five years younger and made 100 more tackles than Vilma last season.
The Saints added another linebacker, David Hawthorne, from the Seahawks, who is another good defender against the run and can back up Lofton in the middle. He could also start at outside linebacker.,
With Smith out, Spahnulo must find a way to get a strong pass rush from a group of guys who don't have a history of putting a lot of pressure on quarterbacks.
However, the Saints don't have to be that dominate if Drew Brees returns because with him at quarterback they can outscore anyone.
The three other NFC South teams know this and you can see what they've done during the offseason to improve defenses to slow down the Saints, who have won the division two of the last three seasons.
Just look at the Falcons. They traded with the Eagles for Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel. Throw him on the field with Dunta Robinsonn and Brent Grimes and the Falcons might have a chance to slow down Brees and the deep game.
Even with the suspensions and the disasterous offseason, the NFC South still revolves around the Saints, but the Panthers and Bucs are getting better.
SOME hither, others yon: Jon Vilma is praised by peers for filing a lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger God-dell (being the powerful chief executive). Yahoo! Sports Michael Silver got these quotes from NFL players on Vilma: "What a badass," an offensive player for an NFC team said. :"He's the man I think he's nuts, but I love it. He's going after Godell. He should, too." A defensive player for an AFC team expressed a similar sentiment, saying, "It’s aggressive, and I love it. I'm excited to see what happens. I love the sound of 'Vilma vs. Goodell.' This going to cement Vilma's named forever."...
"If the ruling is favorable (to Vilma) in any way, it's going to open the floodgates," said one AFC player. "If he prevails, man, that would be sweet." "If Vilma wins, then he's God," said one NFC player. "They should just put him in as commissioner if that happens."...
Indianapolis lost more than $1 million for hosting the Super Bowl, but city officials never expected to make money on the game. And they'd surely spend it again for the privilege to host the game again for the positive impression that Indy made on the rest of the nation...Reggie Bush made his second appearance as co-host of the "Live with Kelly" television show. Ex-Giants DE Michael Strahan was been co-host with Kelly Ripa several times..
Former NFL player Lomas Thomas now an ESPN analyst says 50 per cent of NFL players smoke marijuana...A bronze statue of Steve Gleason's famous blocked punt in the 2006 Dome-coming game for the Saints will be unveiled at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on June 4. Saints owner Tom Benson picked up the tab. The Saints gave the Who Dat Nation some very good news when he said Drew Brees would be the Saints quarterback this season...
NFL.com has the Saints ranked No 9 on its Power Poll. Here's how the website ranks the top 10 with its comments on the Saints: 1) Giants 2) Patriots 3) Packers 4) 49ers 5) Bears 6) Texans 7)Ravens 8) Eagles 9) Saints "Bountygate medival...Saints reeling...Rest of NFC South improving but it's still Brees>Ryan>Cam>Freeman." 10) Broncos...Ex-Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is on track to make a mind-boggling $19 million from his total Irish buyout alone...