Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. ― Sean Payton isn’t sure exactly what he’s looking for in a new defensive coordinator.
But he does know one thing – that person won’t have to fit a specific profile.
If that’s how hires were made, there’s a chance even Payton wouldn’t be where he is now.
“The real, real talented coaches come in all age groups and they come from all over,” the Saints now sixth-year coach said. “They come from college, they come from our league. Some have been head coaches, some haven’t. I just look back at my own experiences and someone gave me an opportunity for the first time.”
Payton acknowledged that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has moved on to St. Louis, where he’ll coach with long-time friend Jeff Fisher.
When asked if Williams turned down a possible second contract with the Saints, Payton said that there hadn’t been time for that conversation to take place.
“We really never got to that spot,” Payton said. “That’s where it was at.”
Earlier, Payton said, “It was a matter of getting through the season, though, and not allowing it to be a distraction a week ago in the playoffs. We visited and spent some time on it and went from there.”
Williams had his season-ending meeting with defensive players Monday morning and at that time, hadn’t notified them that he was leaving.
Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said he never really said goodbye.
“I’m not sure if he knew it was a goodbye at that time,” Dunbar said. “He spoke to us but I really don’t think he thought he was leaving at the time.”
That Williams has become the scapegoat for Saturday’s loss didn’t surprise the defensive players in the locker room on Tuesday.
But they all defended him and his scheme.
“We know Gregg,” Dunbar said. “Gregg’s scheme is a blitz scheme. He’s a man guy. You understand you’re probably going to be in man and that’s just the way Gregg is. As players we know that and that’s what we like to do, that’s how we competed all year. You can’t necessarily blame Gregg for it.”
Defensive end Will Smith added, “We win as a team and lose as a team. I wouldn’t blame anyone. Unfortunately we were the reason we lost the last game because we couldn’t stop San Francisco from scoring. I can see how fans can view it that way. Ultimately if we played better as a team, we never would have been in that situation.”
Now that Williams is gone, the question will be whether Payton looks for a coordinator who is married to the 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
The Saints are set up for the 4-3, defensive Smith said, though he acknowledged that they’ll play whatever scheme the new coordinator prefers.
Smith just hopes the new coordinator stays aggressive.
“I like the fact that we play aggressive,” he said. “A lot of time you see guys just sit back and they still lose. If you lose, you want to lose playing aggressive and not being timid.”