METAIRIE, La. -- Roman Harper sees the hiring of Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator less an indictment on how the Saints played defense lately and more as a way to freshen up the scheme.
“Spags is not coming in here to try and change any of these other things and our attitude or anything like that,” Harper said. “He loves the way we play, he’s just playing a different scheme. We’re just going to have some different calls. It’s not like he’s changing a whole thing here: it’s a winning attitude, it’s a winning coach who has a team and that’s what you want to be a part of and we want to keep that.”
On Thursday, when the Saints take the practice field for the first time, the defense will be learning Spagnuolo’s defense for the third time – once in organized team activities, once in minicamp and once to begin training camp.
It will involve more zone defense than man-to-man, a change for Harper.
But that’s not a bad thing, he said.
“Now you get more eyes on the ball, react more on the quarterback and get better breaks instead of always putting our back towards the quarterback,” Harper said. “Now we actually get to see the quarterback, react to him and now all of a sudden we might make a play. Or a tipped ball, or something, somebody might see it.”
Harper isn’t alone in welcoming Spagnuolo into the Saints family.
Quarterback Drew Brees is delighted, even if he hasn’t spent time with him since he was hired. In the past three seasons, Spagnuolo’s Rams defenses have been one of the few who have figured out how to control Brees and the Saints’ offense.
“…From everything I hear, and certainly playing against him, there’s not a guy I have more respect for on the defensive side of the ball than him,” Brees said. “I know he conducts himself as a true professional. He’s a great teacher. He has a great track record.”