After three seasons as defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, Gary Gibbs was fired on Wednesday.
The defense has been the obvious weakness on a Saints team that has finished in the top five—first overall twice—in total offense in the NFL.
The defensive squad has regressed since their playoff run in 2006, when it ranked 11th in the NFL, and finished third overall against the pass and 23rd against the run.
Little did Saints fans know that the year of Fred Thomas as starter in 2006 was the best the team has finished against the pass. In 2007, the Saints brought in free agents Jason David and Kevin Kaesviharn to help the secondary, only to watch the Saints plummet from third to 30th against the pass in just one season.
But the defense of 2007 did improve from 23rd to 13th against the run, but completely dropped off from 11th to 26th overall in the NFL. The result was a four game losing streak to begin the season, while missing the playoffs with a 7-9 record.
In 2008 the drafting of defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis and cornerback Tracey Porter, the signing of defensive end Bobby McCray, and the trading for linebacker Jonathon Vilma brought promise to the season. The feeling was that the run defense was finally fixed and the pass defense was to be improved.
The Saints did improve, but not enough to make a significant difference, as the team finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the second-consecutive season.
Some could say that injuries may have doomed the team. 10 on injured reserve were defensive players with four being starters. There were missed starts by other players due to injury as well, but even a good defensive scheme could resolve those problems and a great scheme can counteract anything thrown at it.
Gibbs never had a great scheme; he never had a good one either. He did have a decent one, one that could hold in one area but cave in the other.
In three years under Gibbs, the Saints never had a complete game on defense against an elite opponent nor in a game that mattered.
They were just consistently inconsistent.
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