Those of us on the "hire Spags" bandwagon had a rough day yesterday as Sean Payton sabotaged our brakes and sent us careening into a tree as he made off with our precious Spags. But as the dust settles, we have to admit that hiring Steve Spagnuolo would not have been a cure-all for what ails this defense.
What we can assume that Spags would have done is bring a superior scheme and playcalling ability. In his short time in New York, he proved to have a great feel for when and where to bring blitzes. He also got the most out of his pass rushers, but given that the Eagles led the league in sacks this past season, that's not exactly a weakness. But that said, this is no small thing. It's hard to quantify, but it is safe to assume that better scheming and playcalling would certainly have helped last year and would help going forward.
But we can't delude ourselves into thinking it was all scheme. There are plenty of things Spags would have no control over that were major reasons the Eagles D struggled at times last year.
Linebackers - He could nothing to change the fact that this is a very young group of mostly late round picks. With a full offseason of work, maybe he could improve them to a degree, but the same can be said for Juan Castillo. The bottom line is that the team needs and infusion of talent at the position more than it needs a new guy telling them where to go.
Turnovers - I don't care if you have the 85 Bears defense, when your offense leads the NFL in turnovers, the other side of the ball will be negatively affected. A Spags led defense would have been just like the Castiilo led defense was. Now maybe we can say that we think Spags is so smart that maybe he could have mitigated the impact of those turnovers more than Juan did... but there's no way on earth it doesn't have a pretty significant impact on his unit. The offense doing a better job protecting the ball will be a major part in the improvement of this defense regardless of who runs it.
Safety play - We also saw struggles from the safeties at time this year. Frankly, Spags wasn't going to make Jarrad Page into a decent player. Nate Allen was always going to struggle earlier as he still wasn't 100% after knee surgery. Kurt Coleman still is who he is, a seventh round pick in his second year. And Jaiquwan Jarrett was still going to be a rookie who had no offseason. Allen is healthy now and played really well over the last month, Jarrett is still a question mark but obviously he'll benefit from being with the team for a full offseason and there could also be more talent added to the position as well.
So whether it was going to be Spags, Juan or someone else... These are the major issues that plagued the team last year and still need to be fixed going into next season if the defensive coordinator is going to be successful. There is virtually nothing Spags could have done about any one of them.