Defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs, a former collegiate coach and a great teacher of the game, has been fired by the Saints after the 2008 season.
Gibbs joined Sean Payton in New Orleans in 2006, leaving Dallas with many other players and coaches for the Saints. Payton said that the decision was very difficult, as Gibbs was a senior member of a coaching staff that Payton had assembled, mostly from college ranks. The bulk of Payton's original coach staff, mostly intact during 2008, consisted of men with significant - or nothing but - coaching experience at the collegiate level.
Gibbs' defenses in the past two years were the major factors that the Saints missed out on playoffs. In 2008 the defense improved to 23rd in overall yardage from 26th in 2007. In 2006, an 11th-ranked defense helped the team advance to the NFC Championship game.
In terms of points allowed, Gibbs' defenses worsened each year, from 13th to 25th to 26th in the league. In 2006, the Saints' defense was undone by a 23rd ranked rush defense. In 2007 and 2008, the Saints were 30th and 23rd in pass defense.
The Saints have no immediate replacement and have begun interviewing outside candidates. Former Bills head coach, and Titans, Redskins and Jaguars defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is set to interview. Williams was miffed by Redskins owner Dan Snyder's choice of head coach in 2008 and left for Jacksonville, who assumed the final year of his contract. Jacksonville has not re-signed Williams so he is essentially a free agent coach right now and may be angling for one of the league's head coaching vacancies.