I want to say that I should have seen this coming. I want to say that it was an obvious shakeup to a staff that's coming off it's 3rd straight 7-9 season. I want to say that this was a ridiculously easy compromise to make instead of trading away a head coach that is one year removed from signing a 5 year extension and already has a short term rebuilding plan in place. After all, New Orleans has been chasing mediocrity at the linebacker position for the vast majority of a decade now. That level of futility was bound to catch up with the man responsible for it. The Saints special teams unit recently went from being not at all helpful in winning games to being exceeding responsible for them losing games. Of course the coordinator in the kicking game should be looking for employment after having two losses (potentially three) directly attributed to his continued ineffectiveness. That's why the firings of Joe Vitt, Greg McMahon, their understudies, and - to a much lesser extent - Bill Johnson should only be surprising in the sense that they took this long to happen. That being said, I was stunned when I heard this news, and it's because Sean Payton has shown such loyalty to these guys that you could argue it became one of his biggest flaws as a head coach.
I don't know if Jonathan Vilma believes me when I say this, but I appreciate what the long standing, now former members of the staff contributed in bringing the Saints their first and only Super Bowl in 2009. However, they could only ride the coattails of that championship for so long before that good will ran out. That doesn't mean Saints fans should be "celebrating" the termination of a couple of guys that were partly responsible for a memory they'll never forget, but it does mean they can be happy that the franchise they are emotionally invested in is showing it isn't hesitant to hurt feelings to create new memories. The team showed a lot more promise this year than it did in previous years, but that promise wasn't remotely reflected by their record. At some point something had to give and they weren't about to take away from a record setting offense. Will replacing Joe Vitt, Bill Johnson, and Greg McMahon help transform this team from an annual disappointment to a perrenial playoff participant throughout the twilight of Brees' career? Only time will tell, but at least it shows that Sean Payton is finally willing to put his friendships aside in search of a cure to this team's woes. I don't know how much they'll benefit from getting some new voices in the locker room, but I'm pretty damn sure it won't hurt a team that has hurt itself with mind boggling miscues at positions that are now under new supervision.