The New Orleans Saints are going from a blitz-heavy, run-yourself-out-of-the-play type of defense to one more focused on using stunts and schematic measures, and Saints fans are going to notice the difference immediately.
Gregg Williams, the Saints former defensive coordinator, would blitz with his linebackers at an insane clip to gain pressure on the quarterback, and what did that get New Orleans? Not the league lead in sacks, that's for sure.
It did, however, leave the middle of the field open to expose a secondary that wouldn't have seemed as bad had those blitzes worked and Saints players actually got to the opposing quarterback.
In this day in the NFL when passing numbers are going up every year, you can't blitz that heavy and leave your secondary with no help for long periods of time.
That's where Steve Spagnuolo is different.
He focuses more on using just his front four to get pressure on the quarterback, stunting defensive ends inside and using ends who could also play defensive tackle on passing downs, a la Cameron Jordan.
His defenses rack up sacks that way, and that, in turn, keeps the linebackers back in coverage to help cover the five- to 10-yard intermediate routes and not stretch out the secondary to wide.
Spagnuolo has also transformed Martez Wilson, last year's third-round pick, into a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker who will see the field at end purely in passing situations until he shores up his game versus the run.
Those will be the main changes that Saints fans will see in 2012 on the defensive side, and hopefully that, added to the nice offseason additions, will bring this defense to elite status.
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