New England Patriots Chairman/CEO Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichickboth expressed their appreciation for the Saints four-day visit to Foxborough this week.
Kraft and Belichick have led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles and established a foundation for one of the NFL's most successful franchises but said they could still learn from the defending Super Bowl Champions.
Belichick praised the benefit of the joint practices with the Saints and even called Tuesday's session one of the most productive practices of his career.
"Sean (Payton) and Gregg (Williams) and his whole staff do a terrific job with their team," said Belichick. "It was just really good work for us all the way around and I think our players responded well to it."
Kraft said it was a great experience for the teams and the fans and said he hoped they could continue something similar over the next few years.
"I know it was great for our guys to go up against another great team here," said Kraft. "It tested our offense, defense and special teams to go against the Super Bowl champs. We got a lot more out of this practice than we would have if we had not done something like this."
Belichick said he and Payton's similar practice structure and backgrounds made the joint sessions run smoothly. Both of the Super Bowl winning coaches learned under the guidance of Bill Parcells and each were willing to share their ideas to benefit one another.
"It's been so easy to work with them - it's been so easy," said Belichick. "'Do you want to do this? Yeah, we were thinking the same thing. Do you want to do that? Yeah, that's the way we do it.' Most of the conversations, that's the way they go. If (Payton) brings something up to me [I say] 'Yeah, great. That's the way we do it.' The individual one-on-one drills, the team drills, the down-and-distance stuff, how we call things, it's been very easy to work with them from a structural standpoint, which I expected it would be."
Kraft's family and Saints Owner/President Tom Benson's family ate dinner together at the Italian restaurant Davio's at Patriot Place after Tuesday night's practice. Patriot Place is an entertainment area adjacent to Gillette Stadium.
Earlier this year, Benson spearheaded an agreement with Louisiana state officials to build a similar setup to Patriot Place with a Sports Development District in downtown New Orleans.
When asked if Benson inquired him for advice on defending a Super Bowl title or building an entertainment area around the stadium, Kraft said it was the exact opposite.
"I was trying to pick his brain to learn how to sell automobiles, run banks and build a Super Bowl team in this decade," said Kraft. "It was very good. He said he hoped we could both play each other again this year, and there's only one way that can happen, and that would be in your neighboring state of Texas. I hope he's present."
Kraft was referring to Super Bowl XLV, which will be held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.