Saints fire defensive coordinator Gibbs

NEW ORLEANS -- Gary Gibbs, the New Orleans Saints' defensive coordinator the past three years, was fired on Wednesday.

Coach Sean Payton called the decision difficult, saying Gibbs made many contributions to the team despite directing a unit that finished the regular season ranked 23rd in total defense.

Gibbs joined the organization after a four-year stint as linebackers coach in Dallas, where he served on the same staff as Payton from 2003-05.

The Saints defense ranked 11th in the NFL during Gibbs's first season with the team, but it fell to 26th last season and didn't show much improvement this season.

Hit hard by injuries, the Saints allowed 339.5 yards per game, constantly giving up big plays in the secondary. The defensive line, which has two highly paid ends in Will Smith and Charles Grant, struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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