New Orleans Saints senior writer John DeShazier spoke with Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis for Wednesday's Black and Blue Report. Below is a transcript of the interview.
What are some of the things that have stood out for you in these first six games?
"I think first of all, just our record. It's good to be 5-1. We'd love to be 6-0. We had that kind of slip through our fingers. (We) lost to a good team who made a great play at the end of the game. But we're excited about being 5-1 as we get into this break.
"I also think this - I know our coaches and our players look at every week independent from what's happened in prior weeks. We'll approach our next game after the bye week just like we're 0-0 and we'll be looking to improve in all phases of the game. And yet, I think over the first six games, I think there's been some real good things, offensively, defensively and with our special teams and yet there is room for improvement in each of those phases as well."
I know that you and Sean (Payton) mentioned coming out of training camp and coming into the season that you want to get the right 53. Obviously after six games, you guys don't want to pat yourself on the back too much but it seems like you've got the right 53.
"I think that the coaches did a good job of identifying players that can contribute to our season and I think they have. We made a couple of changes, some necessitated by injury and some looking to shore up areas where we needed some depth. We've kept a lot of young guys and a lot of those young guys are really contributing early in the season."
When you say young guys it really does seem that way. You've had three games go down to the wire, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and here New England. I think I read where you told Sean (Payton) we've won our share of these so far. Is it, I guess, a little bit of a surprise to be able to pull out tight games with guys who are so young? Weren't able to pull out the New England game but the guy who makes the huge catch is Kenny Stills, the rookie. Down the stretch, you've gotten great contributions from a lot of young guys this season.
"Yeah we have and my comment after this New England game was, it hurts to lose a game like that. There's no question it does. I said to Sean, and he said this to the team before I even said it to him, over the years we have won a number of games like that by persevering, but not giving up, by playing hard until the final gun goes off. That's what New England and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick did against us. Look, our hats off to them. They made the play and plays necessary in that last minute to win the game.
"We've gotten a number of contributions from younger guys at critical times in the games and yet it still in many ways is the same cast of characters with Drew (Brees) and Marques (Colston) and Jimmy Graham and defensively with Malcolm Jenkins and Curtis Lofton and some of our veteran players that provide great leadership. I think that gives some comfort to our younger guys that they can relax and just play because they know that we've got veteran players that have been in that situation before and help them."
What's your process like during this bye week? Everyone kind of exhales and gets away this week but what do you do?
"I think I'm going to get a little time off at the end of the week here. There's no question about it. One of the things that we like to do is exhale a little bit. Get a little personnel self-evaluation so our staff is doing that. Our pro scouting staff is doing that. Our college scouts are on the road so they've got a lot of reports in. I'll spend some time looking at those reports and just kind of familiarizing myself with some of the names of the guys that are going to be eligible for this next draft. And so, just kind of regroup.
"We've been fortunate in that we haven't had a lot of serious injuries during the preseason and I think that as we come out of the bye week I think we will be relatively healthy. It's not like we're needing to replace injured players at this time and yet there's still some guys out there that we want to keep tabs on that might be able to help us down the road."
Maybe I'm overblowing this but it seems that you guys have had some significant guys out. I mean Jonathan Vilma hasn't played yet this season. Victor Butler hasn't gotten a chance to play. Lance Moore has been out of a couple of games. Roman Harper has been out of a couple of games. And yet, the next man up has really kind of done the job.
"Yeah they have, and two of those guys, Jon Vilma and Victor Butler will become eligible to play for us later in the season if their health warrants it. We've had some injuries to Lance Moore and Roman Harper that you mentioned that have kept them out of multiple games and yet as we get through this bye week, those guys are improving and will be available to us as we go forward. The significant injuries are the ones where you have to make a roster change because they're season-ending. We've been fortunate enough not to have any of those as we've gone into this regular season and obviously we had a number during the preseason. Look, we just keep tabs on the players that are out there and available to us. Some of whom that were in camp with us and have some of our terminology and our systems down, and if we need them they are there for their own call, I guess is the way I would call it."
Six games down and really if you look at it the way Drew Brees looked at it, half the season because of the four preseason games and the first six. That's 10 and you've got the 10 remaining. What do you hope to see over this last 10 game set.
"Well obviously, you want to try to win every game but I think for us the formula has always been let's take each week independent of the rest of them, play hard, have a great game plan, have great preparation and the wins will take care of themselves. Obviously we have lots of goals. We have the goal to win our division and we have a goal to gain home field in the playoffs, all those things that are in front of us. They're all really in our own control which is good after six games to be able to say, look if we take care of our business no one can do better because we have control of that given the teams we have to play and where we are at after six games. That's a good sign."
We've got to ask you a little something about bragging rights here. We've got some fans across the NFL, in a couple of cities in particular, who want to take the mantle away from the Saints fans as being the best in the NFL with some of, I don't want to say artificially generated polls, but let's call it what it is. Do you have any message for Saints fans while they are trying to take the mantle away from us?
"This came up the other night on an interview I was doing. Let's admit this, they are loud in Seattle. They are very loud. They are very loud in Kansas City and yet I would say to you, try this experiment. Go in your closet at home and close the door and yell as loud as you can and then go outside on your porch in the open air and yell as loud as you can and find out which one hurts your ear the most. We've got the advantage of an indoor facility. We've got the advantage of 70,000 plus passionate Saints fans so I think and again, I'm a little biased, but we don't need the Guinness Book of World Records to tell us that we are the loudest stadium. We already know that we are. Here is what I would also say; I think that we are going to need that coming out of this bye week. We've got some important games coming up, the 49ers and obviously the Buffalo Bills when we come back immediately, the Carolina Panthers after that and Tampa Bay. We've got some games where we need our fans to be loud. And I would say this, I don't think that our fans have performed their best early in the season yet. They've been loud but I think they can be louder. They can affect the game. Positively for us and negatively for the visiting team."
!(http://www.neworleanssaints.com/media-center/photo-gallery/New-Orleans-Saints-at-New-England-Patriots-/7ea76976-4716-4c08-85f7-a3d954d3c317 "New Orleans Saints")