Saints fire defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo

It hasn't been a great year for Steve Spagnuolo. He was fired as head coach of the Rams on Jan. 2, 2012, and on Thursday the Saints fired him as their defensive coordinator.

This news comes just two days after Sean Payton was reinstated by Roger Goodell. In announcing the move, Payton also said the Saints fired secondary coach Ken Flajole and were making a move to the 3-4 defense.

"I personally want to thank Steve and Ken for their contributions during what was an unprecedented 2012 season,” Payton said in a statement released by the team. "Philosophically, we are changing our defense to a 3-4 alignment and right now is the best time to accomplish this transition."

Spags was hired by the Saints just over a year ago, and during his tenure with New Orleans things did not go ... well. New Orleans gave up 440.1 yards per game, the worst in the league by a long shot. The defense gave up more total yards than any other defense in NFL history.

At least one anonymous Saints player ripped Spags to the press, calling his in-game adjustments "bad, bad, bad."

Still, at least one Saint -- defensive end Will Smith -- called the news "unfortunate."

"It's very unfortunate, but I guess that's what Sean wanted to do so that's what Sean did," Smith told Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Payton, speaking to the media at the Senior Bowl this week, hinted at the possibility of change.

"I think we're going to have to look closely at our personnel and how we used them," Payton said when asked about his coaching staff. "Most importantly, are we asking the players to do what they do best? ... To answer your question specifically on defense, that's the one thing that keeps me up at night right now.

"In other words, getting back here and visiting with the staff. Today, we're going to read defensive evaluations. ... We're going to go through personnel, scouts, coaches."

It's crazy how far Spagnuolo's star has fallen since 2007, when his Giants defensive unit dominated the undefeated Patriots in New York's Super Bowl victory. He went from one of the top coaching candidates in the NFL to a guy who was fired in consecutive seasons from different jobs.

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CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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