Orgeron's departure opens door for defensive overhaul

January, 1, 2009
1/01/09
12:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

There's a very interesting story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune about Saints coach Sean Payton being relieved that defensive line coach Ed Orgeron has left for the University of Tennessee.

Payton should be relieved because it allows him to begin making improvements to a defense that really needs them. Orgeron, who was a cornerstone to last year's offseason defensive overhaul, didn't really work out. He came with a reputation as being a great college defensive line coach, but he wasn't able to draw the potential of a talented New Orleans defensive line.

Although rookie defensive Sedrick Ellis had a promising season, defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant weren't able to produce a steady pass rush, and the Saints had a bunch of injuries to their other defensive tackles.

The line was underachieving even before it became obvious that Orgeron wanted out and rumors started flying about him going to Tennessee or LSU. There's no doubt that was a distraction.

The Times-Picayune also reports former Denver defensive line coach Bill Johnson may be the top candidate to replace Orgeron. Payton needs to get this hire right this time because he's got a defensive line that has some talent, but needs to produce.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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