Saints coach Sean Payton has begun following through on the changes he promised after his team went 7-9 in 2014 and missed the playoffs.
New Orleans is parting ways with wide receiver coach Henry Ellard, tight end coach Terry Malone and assistant defensive backs coach Andre Curtis, the NFL Network reported Friday. The Saints did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the report filed by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Ellard had been the Saints’ receiver coach since 2012, taking over for Curtis Johnson (2006-2011) after Johnson was hired to run Tulane’s football program. Malone had been in his position since Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006 — the year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city — and was on the staff that helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV in February 2010.
Curtis had been in his spot since 2012.
The changes come after the Saints offense had the fifth-most giveaways in the NFL during the season (30), which largely nullified the success a unit that gained the most yards in the league could’ve had. Four of the 10 giveaways not committed by quarterback Drew Brees were lost fumbles that were the responsibility of tight end Jimmy Graham (two) as well as receivers Nick Toon and Marques Colston.
Brees’ targeted receivers also dropped 31 passes, which was tied for the ninth-most in the NFL. Payton stressed few points more than he did the need for improved ball security this year.
Also, on defense, the Saints were 25th out of 32 against the pass, having allowed 251.2 yards through the air per game in 2014. They permitted quarterbacks to post a combined passer rating of 92.9, which was the ninth highest in the NFL.
Ellard was a receiver in the NFL from 1983 to 1998, mostly for the Rams when they were in Los Angeles. After the Rams moved to St. Louis, Ellard coached receivers for them from 2001 to 2008; for the Jets from 2009 to 2011; and for the Saints.
Before joining the Saints, Malone was the offensive line coach (1997-2001) and offensive coordinator (2002-2005) at the University of Michigan. Reached by text message on Friday, he said he and his family loved making New Orleans their home for nine years. Four of his children graduated from local high schools, and two got degrees from LSU.
“The Malones are truly blessed!” he wrote in a text. “Now we start our next chapter, but (we) will always consider (New Orleans) home. God Bless us all.”
Curtis was a defensive quality control coach for the Giants from 2006 to 2008, making him a part of a staff that won a Super Bowl in 2007. He was a defensive backs coach for the Rams from 2009 to 2011 before joining the Saints.
Rapoport said there would be more changes for the Saints in addition to the departures of Ellard and Malone. All eyes are on defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, whose charges permitted the second-most yards in the NFL after holding opponents to the fourth-fewest yards in 2013.
Payton refused to discuss the job security of any coaches or players when he met with local media Monday.
On a related topic, it had been reported on FootballScoop.com that Vanderbilt intended to hire secondary coach Wesley McGriff to be their program’s defensive coordinator. But McGriff will actually not be taking that job and will be staying with the Saints, CoachingSearch.com said in a report Friday, citing anonymous sources.
CoachingSearch.com’s report surfaced four days after Payton said to New Orleans media that he had never been told anything about McGriff’s possibly going to Vanderbilt.