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Thursday, January 19, 2012
Spagnuolo, Williams and trading places

By Mike Sando

The St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints both fared well in lining up defensive coordinators.

Steve Spagnuolo, let go as Rams coach this month, takes over the Saints defense. He replaces Gregg Williams, who is expected to join the Rams under new coach Jeff Fisher.

Spagnuolo and Williams have both fared well enough as defensive coordinators to become head coaches, Williams with Buffalo (2001) and Spagnuolo with St. Louis (2009). That makes them solid choices for each team.

Williams comes to St. Louis already familiar with some of the Rams' 2012 opponents. He faced six of them -- Green Bay, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Minnesota and San Francisco -- while with the Saints in 2011.

Playing the 49ers twice in 2012 means the Rams will play half their 2012 games against opponents Williams faced this season.

Spagnuolo likewise faced six of the Saints' 2012 opponents this past season: Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, Green Bay and the New York Giants.

The chart shows where the Saints' and Rams' defenses ranked in various categories for 2011. These defenses played under vastly different circumstances based on how many points each team's offense scored. The Rams' ability to finish with more more interceptions (12-9) and sacks (39-33) -- not just on a rate basis, but overall -- stands out.