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Sunday, 17 June 2012 09:59

Saints: Hargroves agent blasts, Spags seeks, Bush vs. Sproles while Graham on cheap

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SpagnuoloThe agent for Anthony Hargrove took a pre-hearing shot against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Sunday, agent Phil Williams questions why the NFL has released evidence “strategically” and not fully sharing.

Others have complained however, the NFL has stated it was not required to release all evidence.
Cleveland's Scott Fujita, and current Saints Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith have their appeal hearings scheduled before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday.


It is uncertain whether suspended New Orleans Saints coaches Sean Payton, Gregg Williams and other Saints will be requested to testify.


Steve Spagnuolo received several defensive coordinators offers, but he moved quickly at the chance to accept an offer from coach Sean Payton to oversee a struggling Saints defense that Gregg Williams left behind.

Spags burns to be a head coach again.

Spagnuolo told Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe "I'm not going to lie to you ," in reference to be a head coach again after his ill-fated turn at the top in St. Louis.

"The professional thing to do in this situation is you concentrate all of your efforts and all of your focus on the job that you have," said Spaqnuolo.  "I feel lucky I have a job in this business. You fight every day to keep the job you have. Now, should the good Lord put another opportunity in front of me to be a head coach, I'm jumping at it, I'm going to run  with it. I know that I'll be better having gone through it."

Payton knew Spags would leave as soon as he got another head-coaching job, but Payton doesn't hold back an assistant from moving on to a better job. Spags should get another head-coaching job because he communicates with his players and has a sterling reputation in the NFL. He was the man Payton wanted when he didn't renew Williams' contract.

"I think I'm a better football coach. I know if given the opportunity again, which I hope happens, I will be a 10-times better head coach because sometimes you learn more from your mistakes.  He took them from a 1-15 to 7-9 and within a tiebreaker of the playoffs, but they fell back to 2-14 when a new staff was hampereed by the lockout and injuries hit the Rams at a record pace. His Rams beat the Saints and stopped their high-scoring offense last season.

"Sometimes you learn more from your failures than you do from your success."

Spag's defense will feature a better pass rush, more versatile linebackers and defensive backs who will cover receivers in zones rather than man-for-man. Under Spag's defense the safeties should cover better and even safeties makes interceptions, something they failed to do last season.

The Rams gave him plenty to learn while he was their head coach.
"We just didn't have the weapons," said Spagnuolo of his final Rams team.

But that 10-38 record doesn't begin to describe the respect Spagnuolo has with the league, going back to being defensive coordinator who helped the Giants upset the favored unbeaten Patriots in the Super Bowl.

From that standpoint, the Saints are a perfect job for a resume builder. Often, a coach like Spags gets another chance at head-coaching.

With the suspensions from the bounty investigation, there's a built in excuse if they don't succeed, but the league experts have the Saints as Super Bowl contenders.

If this comes true, Spags' star will climb quickly, and he'll have a chance to get back into the market from a position of strength rather than weakness.

There may be five head-coaching vacancies next season with many coaches on the hot seat led by Norv Turner at San Diego and Andy Reid at Phildelphia.

We just might see Spags back in the number, assuming the Saints end up playing a winning tune.  

SPROLES THE BEST: Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. selects the Saints' Darren Sproles as the most versatile player in the NFL, but you knew that about Sproles. Sproles replaced Reggie Bush as the do-it-all guy for the Saints' prolific offense and the Saints didn't miss a beat after Bush went to Miami.

Bush had a terrific 2,696 all-purpose yards in 2011 as a running back and he had great explosiveness as a return specialist on punts and kickoffs. He is downright terrifying in space and is extremely effective on draws and screens because he can hide behind his offensive line.

Sproles has promised he'll be a better inside runner this season. His rushing numbers may decrease if Mark Ingram can stay healthy (knee), but his coaches know how to get Sproles touches.


Even though tight end Jimmy Graham outperformed what his minimum level contract will pay, he will not get a well-deserved raise'

That's because the Saints have limited payroll because they are in the process of an ongoing contract dispute with Drew Brees. So, Graham's salary is not expected to change.

A third-round draft choice in 2010, Graham is due to make $540,000 and $575,000 before becoming a free agent in 2014


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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.