New Orleans Saints Coaching History—John North (1973–1975)
John North played defensive end for the Baltimore Colts from 1948-50.
North was a man to be admired.
He signed to play football, basketball and to run track and field at Vanderbilt. After his freshman year, he enlisted in the Marines and went to fight for his country湖北快三开奖结果 in World War II.
He was injured, shot in both calves, survived, and was awarded the Purple Heart.
North overcame the injuries to play pro football.
After his playing days ended, North got into coaching at the high school and college level. He became an NFL assistant with the Detroit Lions before joining the New Orleans Saints staff in 1972 under J.D. Roberts.
With two games remaining in the 1973 preseason, John Mecom abruptly fired Roberts and North was promoted to take over. North spent the next two-and-a-half seasons as head coach in New Orleans.
The regular season debut was an ominous start as the rival Atlanta Falcons destroyed the Saints 62-7 at Tulane Stadium. That was and remains the most lopsided loss in franchise history.
The second act was no better in a 40-3 loss at Dallas. After a close 14-10 loss at Baltimore, the Saints got on track, winning two straight games and four of the next five. The Saints could not sustain it, losing five of the nest six games.
New Orleans was competitive, losing two games by four points and one game by three points. The highlight was a 13-0 shutout victory over the Bills and O.J. Simpson on Nov. 4. The Saints held the NFL’s top rusher to 79 yards on 20 carries.
The Saints rebounded to finish 5-9.
Archie Manning accounted for 12 touchdowns, Jess Phillips rushed for 663 yards but Danny Abramowicz was injured and played in just two games. Tommy Myers was coming on as a good defender in the deep and Joe Federspiel established himself at inside linebacker.
The Saints did well with their first two draft picks in 1973 with the selection of defensive tackle Derland Moore, who would play 13 years and become a Saints Hall of Fame inductee, and defensive end Steve Baumgartner. Jim Merlo was a solid fourth round pick and jitterbug running back Howard Stevens was a steal in the 16th round. The most interesting pick, in retrospect, was Paul Orndorff in the 12th round.
While Orndorff would not become an NFL star, he became a wrestling star in the WWF and WCW ranks, known as “Mr. Wonderful.”
The 1974 draft was decent. Rick Middleton went in the first round and was a bust while Paul Seal was decent in the second round as was Joel Parker in the fourth round, Terry Schmidt in the fifth round and Alvin Maxson in the eighth round.
The Saints went 5-9 again, again starting slowly at 1-4 before winning two straight but once again, they could not sustain the success. The highlight was sweeping the rival Falcons.
Archie Manning played in just 11 of 14 games as injuries, which would become more frequent, crept in on him with all of the hits he took. Maxson had a very good rookie year, rushing for 714 yards. Parker also had a good rookie campaign with 41 catches, including four touchdowns. Schmidt was good with four interceptions. Derland Moore and Bob Pollard were solid.
Then came 1975. It was the start of a new era as the Saints opened the Louisiana Superdome.
The Saints failed miserably at the top of the draft that year with their selections of Larry Burton, Kurt Schumacher and Lee Gross. They did make a good choice in Elois Grooms in the third round. Mike Strachan was a good ninth round pick.
Once again, the trend of starting slowly bit the Saints, who began 0-3 and 1-5 and never recovered.
After a 38-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 26, Mecom again became restless and fired North in the middle of a season.
That left North with a final mark of 11-23 as a head coach.
Mecom’s record now read three head coaches, two fired in midseason and one in the middle of the preseason.
Saints Director of Pro Personnel Ernie Hefferle took over for North on an Interim basis.
Manning had a rough season with just seven touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. A total of 71 of Manning’s 159 completions were to Strachan and Maxson. Wide receivers were non contributors. Strachan was good, leading the team with 668 yards rushing.
North went on to serve as an assistant with the Falcons for seven seasons before returning to New Orleans as quarterbacks coach for the USFL New Orleans Breakers in 1984.
North was a truly nice person. He came on my radio shows several times in his latter years as he made his 湖北快三开奖结果 in Covington, staying in Louisiana, a place he loved.
North was not a bad head coach. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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