New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton announced today that the club has hired Darren Rizzi as special teams coordinator.
Rizzi, comes to New Orleans with 26 years of coaching experience, including a ten-season stint with the Miami Dolphins from 2009-18. Rizzi coordinated the Dolphins special teams efforts from 2011-18, additionally serving as assistant head coach/special teams coordinator from 2015-16 and associate head coach/special teams coordinator from 2017-18.
Rizzi’s Dolphins units the past eight seasons were ranked first in the NFL with 11 blocked punts and second in the league with 22 total blocked kicks. During his Dolphins tenure, three special teams players have been named to four Pro Bowls. he coached five players to the NFL All-Rookie team in the past six years. Rizzi’s units served in the top half of NFL writer Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings in all eight years that he served as the Dolphins special teams coordinator.
In 2018, the Dolphins graded out fourth in the NFL in Gosselin’s rankings. Kicker Jason Sanders drilled 18-of-20 (90.0 pct.) field goal attempts and was selected to the PFWA All-Rookie team selection. He was one of only four NFL kickers to kick in all of his team’s games and miss just two or fewer field goals and one of only four to miss three or fewer kicks. His 90.0 field goal percentage was ranked eighth in the NFL and fifth-best in Dolphins history. Punter Matt Haack’s 35 punts inside the 20-yard line ranked fifth in the NFL. Miami was eighth in the NFL in punt return average (10.5 avg.) with Jakeem Grant leading the league (16.3) before being placed on Injured Reserve in Week 13. Senorise Perry led the Dolphins with 12 special teams tackles.
Rizzi joined the Dolphins in 2009 with four years’ experience as a collegiate head coach, including the 2008 season at his alma mater, the University of Rhode Island. Prior to taking over the URI program, Rizzi was an assistant at Rutgers for the previous six seasons (2002-07), where he headed up the Scarlet Knights’ special teams among his responsibilities. Before his stint at Rutgers, he was the head coach at the University of New Haven from 1999-2001. He coached special teams/linebackers at Northeastern in 1998 and coached at New Haven as an assistant from 1994-97. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Colgate in 1993. The Hillsdale, N.J. native played tight end at URI from 1989-92, where he first walked on in 1988.