Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Q: I was just rehashing how you used to work at a Syracuse paper just like we do for the Times-Picayune.
A: I worked at the Times-Picayune when I was down in New Orleans.
Q: How did you do that? You did it on the side of coaching?
A: No, I did it when I was a player. We had all those independent contractors that used to deliver papers, so I worked back then in circulation.
Q: Well now you’d only be delivering three days a week.
A: C’mon. It’s a Newhouse paper. We’re trying; we’re trying to battle with social media. I still buy the old school papers just so you know.
Q: How much did Sean Payton help you in the job search and how much has his influence helped you?
A: I would think obviously a lot of it with Sean (Payton) and with Mickey Loomis. I was very fortunate. Even Mr. Benson was great. I was very fortunate to be around people that I felt that I could communicate with. Sean and Mickey weren’t only people that I worked for, but they were also good friends. A lot of who I am today is from that experience that I had down there. With them, with the other coaches, with everyone.
Q: What is it that you took away from them specifically?
A: Well Nate (Hackett) calls the plays here for us, Nate Hackett. Really just the communication skills, just how well they communicate. Sean was always a great communicator, he will always be a great communicator with the players and the staff and just how he handled everything. Same with Mickey, just his honesty. Looking back that’s what I take away the most. Maybe that’s because I was born and raised in the Bronx, I didn’t have very good skills in doing that. Just the honesty and the straightforwardness. There’s really so many things that if you did try to pinpoint a couple things, it really probably wouldn’t serve justice to how fortunate I’ve been to be around them. The friendship and the experience, and I say this all the time, this is not the first time, having gone down there post-Katrina and having really been a part of something that special is always going to be a special part in my life and in my family’s life. What everyone did and the resiliency of the people to build back a region, and I tell that to people all the time, was just an unbelievable incredible experience. I was fortunate enough to be there.
Q: You had no prior experience with Sean when he called you?
A: We first met a while ago when he was with the Giants and I had walked in there and we just said hello briefly. Then we met when he was with the Cowboys. I met him and Coach Zimmer. We were actually at a concert at Texas Stadium, a country music concert.
Q: Kenny Chesney?
A: No, it was George Strait, Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett.
Q: With the players in the locker room, when you’re preparing for a
A: I don’t know. I’ve only faced him once. For me it’s a little bit different. I think obviously when you play against great quarterbacks in this league, and obviously Drew (Brees) is one of them, each one of them is a little bit different in what they do as far as the receivers and protection and schematics and the way they call. You just have to go in there and you have to play hard. I think as far as our team that’s what we’ve been doing. We haven’t been to the playoffs in a long time. A lot of coaches have gone through, a lot of players have gone through. We’re here together and we have an opportunity and we have to make the most of it. Really, we’ve had a lot of adversity, have a lot of injuries and people have stepped up and played. We’ve been in every game, so we’re kind of just a team that goes in there and just do the best job we can and fight our butts off.
Q: Is the biggest thing you have to change that culture?
A: You don’t really know what’s gone on before; you just kind of go in there and want to create. For me it was difficult with the new CBA where you get hired as the new Head Coach and you’re not going to see your team until they report sometime in March or April. It’s interesting because here they are as a team and the team comes first and things like that, but you have to find out all their information. I’m not big on social media, so this was the first time I thought it was a great advantage for me because I was able to communicate with a lot of the players on the team through social media to make sure that they knew what was going on, who we were hiring, what we were doing and trying to really build a trust. I tell people all the time when people use those catchphrases, change a culture and things like that, the first thing you need to have a culture is a language. That’s the first thing you have to learn, how to communicate with each other. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction.
Q: How important is it to find a quarterback in this league?
A: Well I hope we have the same luck as we did in New Orleans. It’s important. You know the league is driven by that position. There’s a lot of good players, but you have to be right about that one, there’s no doubt about it. We put a lot of time in to it. Really, my experience being around Sean too, who is a quarterback coach and played quarterback and had great success in college. Being around and listening to him, what you’re looking for and things like that. Then obviously it was an unbelievable ability to be around someone like Drew Brees. I really couldn’t say enough about it. Really get to know him, watch him work, just everything about him. Then all of the sudden, now it creates a picture in your mind of what are we looking for, what types of qualities are we looking for. I think that helped me and it’s very important to know that you can go with someone that can get you over the top, win the close games, lead the team, manage the game. There’s so many things that that person is doing and they need to stay strong. It’s a sport or society that when you don’t play up to the level you’re expected to play at they’re going to come after you. Mentally you have to be extremely tough.
Q: Dealing with EJ’s injury, what’s the luxury of someone like Drew who hasn’t missed a start?
A: I think it’s important, especially to change at that position. It’s more important than any other one to have someone that can go out there day in and day out, practice every day and work together and stay is very important to that position. He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around. I always tell people about that, they want to ask me about that. He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever met.
Q: What did you actually do at the Picayune while you were there?
A: Does anyone pay attention there? I’m a little down right now and I already said I was in circulation. Do you guys not know what they do at the paper? That’s the problem. I’m going to call Mr. Newhouse right now. I’m going to call him and say, ‘You need to do some cultural, some diversity training.’ That’s what I’m going to tell him. Everybody needs to know what everybody does. Do you know the people in the family go through that too? They work the printing press, they’ll work in circulation. They train them and they work in all the areas. I wasn’t privy to training in all the areas, they looked at me and go, ‘This guy needs to be in circulation.’
Q: Well you need to be a sports writer so you could cover the team.
A: I could never. My grammar, I’m from the Bronx, my grammar is awful. I keep telling you guys that.
Q: So you actually threw newspapers?
A: When those things came off the press, I took them and they said, ‘Ok go to Saint Bernard parish and put about 50 bundles in the back.’ There I was with 50 bundles in the back.
Q: You were on the practice squad at the time?
A: What happened was I was with New Orleans in the preseason, I was cut and they brought me back for the last four games of the year. When they brought me back for the last four games of the year, when I was done I was going to stay down there. Obviously you can only do football so much, so I wanted to make sure I worked. I wanted to work my way up; I wanted to be your boss. That’s what I really wanted. I wanted to be the editor of the paper. You have to start somewhere, so I started in circulation.
Q: Did any of your teammates think you were crazy? You were making seven figures and throwing newspapers.
A: That’s the whole point, I wasn’t making seven figures. I just needed something to do, I actually liked it. It was great, I would get a couple papers and then right from the docks I would go in to practice to lift weights in the morning. So I’d go in and Coach Moore would be waiting for me and I’d bring him the paper. I’d drop it right at his door, I figured the more you can do. I was trying to make sure I’d get another year under my belt.
Q: Do you have anything you want to do when you get down here?
A: No, I’m going to be very focused obviously on the game. It was such a great experience for my wife and family and we have so many close friends there. I had recruited that area for almost 12-15 years, so I know all the high school coaches and everyone. I’m really just going to get down there and treat it as a business trip and go. My wife and I are hoping in the offseason, we’re going to come back down there and really spend some time with the good friends down there.
A: He’s always been a great recruiter; I know Mike Neu is there, he was the head coach of the Voodoo while we were there. You can see the talent coming in there. I’m so happy for him, if anyone can get that thing done, especially from recruiting standpoint, he can definitely get some players. When he gets them he gets the most out of them. I’ve always admired that. Even when we were there, with the receivers that we had, eh did an outstanding job w
With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Q: What’s your assessment of Coach Marrone so far?
A: I think he’s done a good job as far as taking expectations and putting them out there to the guys and not being ashamed of them. Saying, ‘These are our goals; this is my expectations for not just our team, but individually. Here are my expectations for you Kyle or you Mario (Williams) or whoever it may be.’ Really kind of holding you to the standard and living up to them and pushing you to get there. That’s what he’s done for our team. Everybody has injuries and nobody is going to feel sorry for you. Really just trying to change a lot of mindsets or enforce a lot of mindsets when you look at the young guys we have coming in.
Q: Did you not have a lot of that motivation there before?
A: I think it’s more about getting everybody on the same page. You would have some that had it, some maybe not as strong. It’s really more about getting everybody collectively on the same page. I think everybody is motivated to a certain extent, but a lot of it is on their own terms or what they want. He’s really done a good job of collectively getting everybody on the same page.
Q: It seems like you guys are going in the right direction, how have things gone for you?
A: We’ve had some close games that have come down to the wire, gotten beat in the last couple of plays. We’ve won a couple games like that, too. Really with what we’ve had going on with guys missing time and just a lot of different things going on, we’d love to go back and have those guys there. Unfortunately you can’t. You deal with those sorts of things and you keep pressing. That’s what we’re going to keep doing and we’re going to keep playing hard. Hopefully that will be enough.
Q: How much has Kiko Alonso impressed you?
A: He’s done a great job. It’s hard; they put a lot on his plate as far as calling our defense, getting a lot of things lined up. We do a lot of things defensively and he doesn’t make a lot of mental errors when it comes to our defense. That says a lot about him as a player and he’s a guy that plays hard all the time and makes plays for us. We’re lucky to have him.
Q: Do you almost take the same approach that you do when preparing for Tom Brady as you will this week for Drew Brees?
A: Yeah, you look at both of those guys and everything that’s going on starts with them. You make plays not only in the pass game, but in the run game. They get the team in good plays, you’re going to run our pass, they recognize everything that’s going on. They have guided offenses that have been record breaking offenses for years and years ever since I’ve been in the NFL. It’s always a big challenge when you play one of these elite quarterbacks. There’s only a couple around and Drew (Brees) is definitely one of them.
Q: For a guy that came from a successful program and then has been struggling with the Bills, how refreshing has it been to have Doug bring in this new atmosphere?
A: I think it’s good. Obviously we have a long way to go. We’re seven games in to this deal and I think we’re just going to continue to get better and better. The only way we’re going to do that, to kind of go back to the old coaches speak, is we really have to focus on one step at a time. We have to get better today; we have to try to nail down our game plan today. Every Sunday, you can’t win 10 games on a Sunday, you have to control that one and you can win that one. I think he’s done a good job getting in to everyone’s mind. Hopefully it’s just going to get better and better as we go from now in to the future.
Q: But the atmosphere does feel a lot better?
A: I think that depends. I’ve been 5-1 here before and the atmosphere was great. I think it’s just the direction feels good, schematically we have some good things going on and we have some good coaches around. When you have a new fresh start, that’s always kind of a motivator for guys.
Q: How about you coming back to the Superdome where you won a national championship?
A: Yeah, it’ll be fun. I think we played down there in the preseason maybe my second or third year, not sure which one. Haven’t been down in a while, but it will be fun to come down and play close to home.