It is late in the game for Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints to be seeking a defensive coordinator.
But that is the position Payton finds himself in after he returned from suspension earlier this week and fired Steve Spagnuolo on Thursday. It could be worse. Imagine if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has not allowed Payton to return some two weeks early from his suspension. Then, you’d be looking at a coaching search that would begin at the end of the first week of February.
Payton told Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he is going to take his time as the club looks for someone that can help guide the transition from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4.
“This one's different because of the timing and because of the uniqueness of the situation. There's no any one candidate in mind,” Payton told Triplett. “I know it appears to people that it's late in the (league-wide hiring) process. But I don't think it is. We'll be fairly patient, take our time in this decision. Obviously, it's going to involve philosophically a change, as well.
“We're going to want to be deliberate, look at our league closely. And I wouldn't discount looking at the college game as well.”
Payton said he thought about a move to a 3-4 defense during the year and then made the decision after meeting with general manager Mickey Loomis.
“I think the 3-4 plan is something that I had considered in years past, and sitting down with Mickey, it was something we felt strongly about doing,” Payton said. “For me and Mickey as well, some studies we've done and just seeing some of these teams weekly and the two teams playing in the Super Bowl (the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers), just having to attack it. It presents issues in running game, presents protection issues. I just know coaching on offense what it does to you … really from my own experience, when we played against a 3-4 teams a handful of teams.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune