New Orleans Saints: Will Sedrick Ellis Improve with the Help of Steve Spagnuolo?

Zayne GranthamContributor IIIFebruary 11, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Sedrick Ellis #98 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after a sack during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Louisiana Superdome on September 26, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints drafted defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. He has not lived up to the reputation that surrounded him coming out of college, but there is a good chance that new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can turn Ellis' career around.

Spagnuolo is known as a great defensive coordinator and his specialty is the defensive line.

He helped the New York Giants win a Super Bowl in the 2008 season through great play from their defensive line. While Spagnuolo was with the St. Louis Rams he was beneficial in the growth of defensive end Chris Long. It is not absurd that he cannot get similar results from Ellis and the Saints defensive line.

Ellis just completed his fourth year in the NFL, and it was probably his worst year in the league.

The only full season that Ellis has played in was 2010. Every other year, Ellis has missed at least one game due to injury. In 2011, he played in 15 games, but had a disappointing season for the most part.

Last year, Ellis compiled 29 tackles and half of a sack, both of which are career lows.

The addition of defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin undoubtedly had an effect on Ellis' numbers, but his opportunities were still there.

The Saints drafted Ellis in 2008 with the hopes that he would become a dominant run stopper and efficient pass rusher. In his short career, Ellis has done a good job of stopping the run, and has also shown flashes of being a good pass rusher.

Steve Spagnuolo's new scheme in New Orleans could improve Ellis' play drastically.
Steve Spagnuolo's new scheme in New Orleans could improve Ellis' play drastically.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

However, he has been unable to stay consistent throughout his career.

Ellis' rookie year was a pretty good one, but his numbers dipped in 2009, the next season.

Last year, 2010, was Ellis' best overall year. He accumulated 44 tackles and six sacks. Again, his numbers dropped the next year.

The key to Ellis' success in the NFL is consistency. If he begins to repeat the type of play that he exhibited in 2010, then the Saints will have a very good defensive tackle on their team.

This is how Spagnuolo can help Ellis.

Spagnuolo expects a lot from his defensive line and will get a lot out of his players. The scheme that Spagnuolo runs requires pressure from his four down linemen, and without it the Saints defense will struggle.

I believe that Ellis is a player that still has a lot of untapped potential, and Spagnuolo is just the coach to bring it out of him.

In 2012, we should see Ellis reach a point that he has never reached before. He will more than likely not get anywhere close to double-digit sacks, and that is expected from a defensive tackle. He also will likely not make a ton of tackles.

However, we should see Ellis get somewhere between five and eight sacks as well around 50 tackles. He will play a huge role in the Saints defense, especially since the Saints are likely to let either Rogers or Franklin walk in free agency this offseason.

New Orleans will need Ellis to play well for their defense to succeed, and I believe that he will do exactly that.

Not only do the Saints need Ellis to perform, but he needs to play well for himself as well. Ellis will become a free agent after the 2012 season, and the Saints may not choose to bring him back if he does not perform well.

Ellis has every reason to play the best he ever has in 2012, now we just have to wait and see if he will come through for the Saints and the city of New Orleans.