Spagnuolo Changed Blitz Schemes to Get Saints Win No. 1, and More NFC South News

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterOctober 8, 2012

Photo courtesy of the Times-Picayune
Photo courtesy of the Times-Picayune

The Saints' win on Sunday night in New Orleans brought more to the table than just getting the team out of the winless column. WWL-TV columnist Bradley Handwerger said that while there was always hope among the players on the team, Sunday's victory over the San Diego Chargers added swagger, confidence and even bravado.

While the offense had been churning out yardage all year, Handwerger believes it's Steve Spagnuolo's defense that sparked new life into the team:

Thanks to a change in game plan and maybe even philosophy, the Saints were able to show us who we thought they were.

Know who you can thank for that? Yep, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

The Saints defense went from a passive-aggressive rush-four-and-drop-into-coverage bunch into a swash-buckling, blitzing, havoc-wreaking unit.

The Saints sacked Philip Rivers five times and brought pressure form everywhere, a huge change from Spagnuolo's typical method of getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks by using only the defensive line.

Why did Spagnuolo change his way of thinking?

Quite honestly, because he had to.

With only six sacks through the four games prior to Week 5, it was apparent that the Saints didn't have the skill set to properly pressure the quarterback with just four guys. Or possibly, it was the scheme that didn't work with the players involved.

For whatever reason, the Saints decided they had to blitz with more people.

“We said all week we wanted to get pressure on this quarterback and move his feet,” Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton told WWL-TV. “Whether it was with four down linemen or bringing pressure, we did that tonight.”

And the Saints won their first game of the 2012 season in no small part because of that change in methodology.


Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Holding the Washington Redskins to only one conversion on third down in nine attempts was key for the Falcons on Sunday. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]


Carolina Panthers

The Charlotte Observer handed out grades for each position from Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks. Yes, there were a number of failing grades. 

Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer said you need a vivid imagination to believe the Panthers are a playoff team.


New Orleans Saints

The Times-Picayune posted 10 observations from Sunday night's game against San Diego.

Drew Brees and Martez Wilson received Times-Picayune game balls Sunday after the Saints' first win.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Greg Schiano and Mike Sullivan spent Tampa Bay's bye week trying to find a comfort zone for quarterback Josh Freeman. [Pewter Report]

The Tampa Bay Times said the jury is still out on whether or not Greg Schiano is the right guy for Tampa Bay's head coaching job.