New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis
2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon Opening Press Conference
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
What has Ryan Herman added to the front office?
"I think this, I saw some comment about analytics. We've always had analytics. We didn't call it that for a lot of years, but it seems like there's more and more tools, (and) more and more data available to us. One of the things we wanted to do was bring somebody in who had some experience with it who could take on some projects, whether it be personnel, coaching, looking at our own team, an opponent, being responsible for looking at that data and then determining can we turn this into something that can help us with decision-making. That's what his role is, I'm not going to talk about the specific projects that he has but, he has some things that we've given him that we want to look at pretty seriously and see if it can help us."
Is that a new emphasis or is it just a new guide?
"Well, it's just another guide. We've been doing it and yet there's more and more of these data sources available, more and more of these tools available. You have to evaluate whether or not they're valuable to you and whether they can help you in decision-making and so we just need another hand basically."
Is that something that Jeff (Ireland) approached you about or have you guys been seeking someone for something?
"I think the genesis of this started with Ryan (Herman) himself. We talked to him a year ago. He'd been someone that Jeff worked with and thought a lot of and had a pretty broad skill set. Then it was, okay what's the role and how can we bring him into the building, what would be the role, where's the need for this specific guy. I'd say the answer to that is yes, that's where it started."
With the league now changing how roster cutdowns happen at the end of training camp and preseason and obviously, this is an evaluation period for you as a general manager but, what are some of the challenges without that cut after the third preseason game there to all of a sudden go from 90 to 53 and how does that hinder your opportunity to look at other players?
"I don't think it makes any difference really, in fact, I think it's an advantage. We've been in favor of the single cutdown for a pretty good period of time here because frankly it's another game that more guys get into and you can get an evaluation on. I think it helps your team in terms of practicing, it helps us with that last preseason game with more guys that we can get a final look at. So I would say it's not a challenge, it's an assistance for us."
When you look at expectations a fan base has on a first round draft pick to play right away, you've addressed that in the past with the development of Robert Meachem, has that changed some what when you look at (Marshon) Lattimore with what the fans are expecting of him or even (Ryan) Ramczyk where people say 'well we're hurt at that position, put him in he's a first round pick' or is it still a three or four-year process?
"Look Bobby (Hebert), I don't think that's changed since the time you entered the league. There's a process here, it's a different game (in the NFL) than (what) you're playing in college and I think it's really different moreso now than it's ever been in terms of just the way they play. There's a learning curve and there's a learning curve in a lot of different areas, not just the scheme but, the expectations of you as a professional player are (a learning curve). There's just a lot to consume as a young player and there certainly have been some guys capable of it that have made pretty significant contributions in their first year. The norm is that it takes some time and that hasn't changed. Now our expectations as a fan and our patience has changed, we're not as patient and our expectations are higher, but it doesn't change the facts and the facts are that is does take time to develop."
Why do you think that whole mentality is present?
"Well, I think it's societal right? We have a shorter attention span and we want more sooner. I want more sooner. That's just the nature of where we are as a society."
Does that impact how you approach the job at all?
"I try not to let it, I try not to let it impact it because we're right back to 'hey the facts are the facts and it takes time to develop, find their comfort zone and understand how to be a professional and understand the scheme.' There are a lot of factors here, a lot of variables.
I asked Sean (Payton) what the strengths of this team was and the position strengths were. What areas do you feel like, because of unproven depth or past injuries, what areas are kind of a concern and ones you want to keep an eye on?
"It's a good question, I think because of the injury situation, the offensive line with Max (Unger) not ready and Terron's (Armstead) injury. So we're going to need to find some help there. Our defense has to improve and we've brought some guys in at every level with the d-line, the linebackers and safeties. I feel good about the additions but, we're going to have to get into this training camp and get into the early part of the season to see what the results are. I'd say the offensive line because of the injuries and the defense because of where we've been."
Is your defense deeper than it was say maybe a year ago?
"I feel like it is but, a year ago we had a number of injuries, particularly in the secondary early and that really hurt us. That can change. Your depth can change in a hurry."
Were the injuries last year atypical, I think your players missed like 300 combined games which is just crazy high, have you looked at that or have you found the reason for it?
"It's been a lot of different ones. I hope it doesn't happen again but, it did seem like we had an inordinate amount in the secondary in particular."
In all the years you've been here leading the Saints, when you look at the competition in the NFC South, is this as tough from top to bottom when you look at franchise quarterbacks and how everyone is stable at that position but, the NFC South seems like it's about as competitive as it's been I know since Sean Payton and Drew (Brees) have been here?
"Yes, I have been here a little longer than that and it seems like this division has been tough a lot of years. When I first came (took over as GM in 2002 at the start of the NFC South) here Tampa was very strong and Carolina (was) for a period. It does seem like this year with the way the quarterbacks have played that we're in one of the tougher divisions and yet from year to year that changes. There have been a number of times where you look at your schedule and you go into a season, you feel like these are the really tough opponents and these not so tough. Then in the course of the season, based upon the way teams play and the injury factor, that can change so it remains to be seen but, yeah I think we feel like we're in a tough division."
With (Nick) Fairley's obviously unfortunate situation, do you view that as a considerable cap constraint or do you feel like there's maneuverability now and going forward for you to get relief?
"I don't feel like it's a constraint at least for the short-term because we expected that. The constraint is we don't have the player. I can't really answer that question right now."
Have you identified anything in a philosophy that you expect to work for you that you've been doing for a couple years on repairing the defense or taking an approach on this hasn't worked for us and we need more of this as far as team building?
"I think it's building the roster the right way and that takes some time and hopefully we're going in the right direction there and we're going to see (improvement). Part of that is hard to evaluate when you have a significant amount of injuries at a particular position like we did a year ago. As we get into training camp, I think we'll have a better understanding of where we're at defensively but, I know this, we expect to be better."
Is there anything that you've done in the last couple years to try to get faster or deeper or bigger, I mean is there something that you guys are in year two or year three of?
"I'd rather not go into that, yes there are some things that we have payed attention to in terms of the type of player that we've tried to bring onto our team but I'd probably rather not get into a discussion about that."
You and Sean (Payton) have been close for a while now, did you get a sense of how difficult it was for him to make changes on his coaching staff with people he leaned on and had a lot of success with?
"Well, that's difficult on anyone. When you've been through as much as he has and we have with a number of these guys, that's a really difficult decision. That's the answer, yeah it's really difficult but, sometimes change is necessary and it doesn't necessarily reflect on that particular person or coach. They could be really good and the coaches we let go were really good and are really good but, sometimes you need to make a change for the players sake."
Do you feel any added pressure? Three straight seasons of 7-9 and you look every year and six, seven, or eight NFL teams change coaches, is there any added pressure where you say we have to have a winning season considering it's the NFL and, 7-9 a lot of times when you have that record, there's a lot of change with coaches?
"I understand that and yet I think we feel pressure every year. That's not satisfying to us so I think at some point when you've been in the business long enough as I have and as Sean (Payton) has you put more pressure on yourself than anyone externally does. We understand the business, it's a produce or else business and we understand that. That's true every year, I think it's true for the players, they understand that too. Bobby (Hebert) you were a player, you understand you put more pressure on yourself than you ever felt externally and I think that's true for us."
With (Nick) Fairley, I know there's other pressing issues but, do you see some kind of arbitration or something that's going to get some of this money back?
"I'd rather not answer that because I don't know yet. I don't know how that's going to resolve itself. There's some difficult questions there and so it's unfortunate for his case. We're a lot more concerned about Nick (Fairley) himself but, that is a concern."
Is there a chance he could return to play for you guys?
"Sean's answer to that was good, never say never. Yet, that's not what our medical people are telling us but I would never say never either because I'm not a doctor and I'm not educated enough to understand if the condition could improve or not improve."
Contract stuff, do you expect anything to happen with (Willie) Snead or is that sort of set for the year?
"You never know right? We'll see how that goes and if there's an announcement to be made we'll certainly get it to you."
With (Drew) Brees, would you like to go to him before the season starts or are you still content to wait until next year?
"I think we'll see how that plays out as well."
The same thing for Kenny Vaccaro, obviously?
Have you had any discussions with (Kenny) Vaccaro's people at all?
"I'd rather not discuss any individual contract until something gets done."
Would you like to get something done with (Drew) Brees)
"Again I'm going to defer that question to later. Later in training camp."
Quotes from Mickey Loomis' Press Conference - Wednesday, July 26
General Manger Mickey Loomis met with the media on Wednesday, July 26 about the start of 2017 Training Camp presented by Verizon.
New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis