Are the Saints Getting The “Old Band” Back Together?
It’s not The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or even The Blues Brothers; but some recent news may see some former “old band” (a.k.a. the 2009 Super Bowl XLIV championship winning team) members of the New Orleans Saints returning to the franchise where they enjoyed the greatest success of their careers.
And we’re not talking about players per se such as safety Malcolm Jenkins or even linebacker Jonathan Vilma coming out of retirement, but former coaches — okay, and maybe one former player.
News from FOXSports.com NFL reporter Alex Marvez is that the Saints are close to hiring former Miami Dolphins tight ends and interim head coach Dan Campbell.
Campbell was with the Saints for their 2009 season as a free agent tight end but never got to see any playing time due to being injured in training camp.Dec 6, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell looks on before a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Why would head coach Sean Payton want Campbell back after only one season as a player who never contributed is a question answered by the history the two have together.
Payton was with the New York Giants as a quarterbacks coach and later offensive coordinator, when they selected Campbell in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft.
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When Campbell joined the Dallas Cowboys in 2003, Payton had also just been hired as assistant head coach under his mentor Bill Parcells.
As Marvez noted, Campbell’s role with the Saints could be split as not only a tight ends coach but as assistant head coach as well.
Campbell was reportedly also being heavily courted by the Minnesota Vikings as well as the Dallas Cowboys following his release from the Dolphins.
Another rumbling circulating social media is the possibility of former quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi joining the staff again.Oct 11, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Who Dat Dish editor John Hendrix said in a recent Tweet that the Saints are not only bringing back Campbell but also Lombardi as well.
Was also told that the #Saints are expected to add both Joe Lombardi and Dan Campbell to the staff next week, per source
— John Hendrix (@JohnJHendrix) January 13, 2016
Lombardi was with the Saints from 2007 until he took over as offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions in 2014 where the offense flourished.
However, after a disastrous start the Lions parted ways with him after a 1-6 start in 2015 and the offense looked like the complete opposite of the prior season.
While nothing has been made official, it just makes sense for the Saints to bring him back after quarterback Drew Brees has most of his successful seasons under Lombardi.
The Saints website notes that under Lombardi his last four seasons with the team, Brees “completed 1,701-of-2,499 passes (68.1%) for 19,661 yards with 156 touchdown passes and a 101.4 passer rating. The signal-caller has led the league in completions, yardage and scoring throws over this period, while being selected to the Pro Bowl each season.”
Lombardi would replace Mike Neu if he is hired after Neu recently left to be the head football coach for Ball State.
Another former Saints coach’s name that has been floating around as a possibly returning is Curtis Johnson who was fired as Tulane University’s head football coach.Oct 3, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tulane Green Wave head coach Curtis Johnson before a game against the UCF Knights at Yulman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
I had mentioned Johnson having the potential to come back to the organization not long after he was let go from Tulane due to the success he had as the wide receivers coach during his tenure with the Saints.
Not only is Johnson loved and respected by Payton but also mentioned was the fact the receiving corps had “108 touchdown grabs with 35 performances with over 100 yards receiving since 2006” before he left.
Currently John Morton is the receivers coach after taking over the position in 2014 from Henry Ellard who had been brought in to fill the Johnson’s void.
While not new, interim defensive coordinator Dennis Allen got the seal of approval from Payton at the end of the season and according to WWL 870 AM’s NFL and draft analyst Mike Detillier, the announcement to make it official should be coming shortly.Dec 21, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen before a game against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Opinions on if the Saints should go out and hire an new defensive coordinator besides Allen, have been split down the middle after the final game.
While the defense didn’t have an automatic turnaround when he took over after the bye week, the comfort level is there with Payton who would simply just have to start draft preparation instead of looking for a new coordinator.
Also, Allen could likely improve the defense if he is given input on exactly what he needs to begin filling the right holes in the scheme he wants to run; seeing he had success as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator in 2011.
Payton promised to give the franchise more playoffs and championships just last week, so don’t be surprised to see him gather the individuals around him that helped him bring the Super Bowl title to New Orleans to begin with…..
“We’re Getting The Band Back Together” — The Blues Brothers (1980)