The New Orleans Saints are bringing a familiar name back to their coaching staff -- Tulane quarterbacks coach Mike Neu. ESPN.com confirmed that Neu will be hired as the Saints' quarterbacks coach. The Times-Picayune first reported that Neu would join the Saints' staff.
Neu, 42, is a natural choice to fill the job that was vacated when Joe Lombardi left last month to become offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions.
Neu was a member of the Saints' “extended family” at Tulane, where he worked under former Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson. Neu also served as a college scout for the Saints from 2009-2011. Before that, he served as the head coach of New Orleans' Arena Football League team -- the VooDoo -- from 2004-2008, when the franchise was owned and operated by Saints owner Tom Benson and the Saints' front office.
Not only that, but Neu already has a close relationship with the Saints' young developmental quarterback Ryan Griffin, who played at Tulane before signing with the Saints as an undrafted free agent last year.
The Saints are high on Griffin's potential -- they signed him to the active roster last season as a No. 3 quarterback to prevent him from signing elsewhere. Griffin will have a good opportunity to compete for the No. 2 job this offseason -- one that could be enhanced by working with Neu.
Obviously Neu won't be asked to reinvent the wheel as the Saints' quarterbacks coach. He'll be joining one of the NFL's elite groups of offensive minds -- coach Sean Payton, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and quarterback Drew Brees. It will make for a smooth transition, though, since everyone has a longstanding relationship with Neu and a respect for his work. Payton has mentioned Neu in the past as someone whose opinion he trusts in talent evaluation.
When asked about signing Griffin last year, Payton said, "Mike Neu is someone I felt was always good at evaluating that position when he was scouting it for us. And now he's coaching him, and he's high on him. So I'm excited about him. I'm anxious to see how he does."