Decision to not name one DC could come back to haunt Saints
New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Decision to not name one DC in 2022 could come back to haunt Saints

The Saints didn't want to choose between Ryan Nielsen and Kris Richard for their defensive coordinator role this past season. After Monday's report, the team might not have either on staff for the 2023 season.

The Panthers requested permission to interview Richard for their defensive coordinator opening. Richard served as co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach this past season in New Orleans. Carolina also needs a head coach, but it's unclear whether Richard is in the running for the top job.

On Saturday, it was reported that the Falcons requested permission to interview Saints co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Nielsen for the franchise's open defensive coordinator position.

NFL rules state that teams can block coaches from interviewing with other teams for positions that would be lateral moves. Since Nielsen and Richard were co-defensive coordinators, both would receive promotions by being named the sole defensive coordinator.

If both leave, it would leave two more holes for New Orleans to fill while being the latest sign the decisions to run it back with an aging roster and promote Dennis Allen to head coach were bad ones.

The team wanted to keep Richard and Nielsen in familiar roles, choosing stability instead of revolution. New Orleans lost 10 games for the first time since 2005 and is without its first-round pick this season after having two last year. Keeping things in place didn't have the desired outcome. 

Since the team decided to stand pat, the division's bottom dwellers have caught up to it. Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans all finished the season 7-10.

The secondary was the Saints' strength this season. The defense allowed an average of 184.4 yards through the air, the second-fewest in the NFL. 

Before coming to New Orleans prior to the 2021 season, Richard served as defensive backs coach for the Seahawks during the "Legion of Boom" Super Bowl-winning era from 2011-2014. He was promoted to defensive coordinator from 2015-2017.

He coached defensive backs for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 and 2019.

Nielsen joined New Orleans in 2017 after coaching at NC State from 2013-2016. He was the team's defensive line coach from 2017-2020. He added the title of assistant head coach in 2021 and was named co-defensive coordinator before the 2022 season. 

Now both could leave the franchise, exiting through the fire escape.

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