New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis
Senior Bowl Media Availability
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Can you announce any of the staff changes to the front office?
"Jeff Ireland has agreed to come on board and be a part of our football operations staff so I am excited about that. I am excited about his experience, his pedigree and the things he has done in the league. We are excited about that. It was tough to let Rick (Reiprish) go. He did a lot of great things for us and was a big part and contributor to the success that we've had, including helping put together the roster for the team that won the Super Bowl. When we lost Ryan (Pace) to Chicago, I felt like we needed to add some experience, an evaluator from outside the building, and I also felt like it would be good for us to get some fresh ideas and meld those with the things that we've done. I am looking forward to having him in the building."
What is Jeff Ireland's role going to be?
"He is part of our football operations. We haven't settled on a title yet but he will be in charge of the college scouting process and obviously we will tap into him and his experience really in all aspects of football operations. He will be a good resource."
How hard is it to make these changes at this point in the offseason?
"It is just part of the business. I think I said not long ago that we were going to lose Ryan Pace so that is not a surprise. We have some other young guys on our staff that are rising stars, Terry Fontenot and Dwaune Jones. There are a lot of guys on our staff that are capable of doing a lot more in this league and they will get that opportunity at some time. That is just part of the business."
Can you comment on the Dennis Allen rumors?
"I think you will have to ask Sean (Payton) that. You will have to ask him questions about that."
He has joined the staff though?
"I can't confirm that."
What is your relationship with Jeff Ireland? How long have you known him?
"I've known Jeff (Ireland) for a good period of time. I've known of him since he was a scout with the Kansas City Chiefs. I obviously knew him and about him in his role at Dallas, and then when he became the General Manager of the Miami Dolphins then you have a lot more face-to-face contact and just contact about the business of the league. It has been quite a while. I haven't measured it in years. We have some guys on our staff that have worked with him in the past, Joe Vitt in Kansas City, Sean (Payton) in Dallas and so we've got some guys in our building that have first-hand experience with him. Jeff has made a lot of great decisions in terms of personnel, in terms of the draft and free agents. I like his pedigree."
Was this something that you have been thinking about for a while?
"It is part of that evaluation process. We have to look at ourselves and the way we are doing things. There is nothing wrong with having some fresh ideas especially from someone that has a lot of experience. He has worked with Bill Parcells and a lot of great people, that he has worked with and learned from in the past. I feel like we are expanding our knowledge exponentially."
Were you considering bringing in someone with fresh ideas before Ryan Pace left?
"I would say it was triggered by Ryan going to Chicago, yes."
How does that influence Rick Reiprish being let go?
"I don't know if I want to speculate on that."
Does this disrupt the player evaluation process?
"No, I don't think it does that at all because the college evaluation, a bulk of that work has been done. There is more work to get done. Jeff (Ireland) will jump right into that process. We've got a lot of really good college scouts on our staff that do great work and they will continue to do that. I don't think we will miss a beat."
Have you tweaked the evaluation process at all, the way you operate things within the personnel department?
"We do that every year. That is an ongoing process for us. We've changed the way we've done things and looked at things. Sometimes they are tweaks and sometimes they are adjustments that are bigger than tweaks. I am anxious to have Jeff there on a daily basis and kind of understand some of his thinking in the way that they have done things and meld that with the way we've done it and see if we can get more efficient."
Are you evaluating the decisions you've made in the draft in the past few years or do you think it is too early to evaluate that?
"I think, first of all, part of that, certainly, it is too early, but I think you are always looking at the decisions you've made and you try to be critical of those, what could we have done better. We always do that regardless of the record of our team. I think that is normal for us."
How big of a loss is losing Josh Lucas?
"It is a good opportunity for Josh, he is a good scout. He will do a good job in Chicago. We have a good staff and we will make up that pretty readily."
Will you have to make additional hires?
"We will have a replacement to take care of. I will talk with Jeff (Ireland). He will have a lot of input in that. But ultimately, yes, we will be a body down if that is what you are asking me. We will want to replace that."
Will Jeff Ireland and Terry Fontenot be the two highest ranking guys below you?
"Yeah, Jeff and Terry. Terry Fontenot does a great job as our pro director and will continue to report to me, and Jeff as well. Look, we do a lot of crossover here so we are going to get everyone's input. Both in college and pro we've got both. Jeff and Terry are excellent evaluators and they will do a good job in both areas."
Are there any particular traits that standout to Jeff Ireland?
"I think his overall body of work for him. I don't know if there is any one thing. Look, he has great skill, great evaluation talent, I like his experience both as a General Manager and as Player Personnel Director. He has trained a lot of good people that have trained under him and have gone onto higher positions. I think that speaks well of him."
Was this more of your hire with Sean Payton's input?
"Yes this is my hire, but look, Sean and I talk about the personnel we bring into our staff regardless of the area. As I said, he has firsthand experience with Jeff so that was great information."
Can you address with where you and Sean Payton stand with evaluating the coaching staff?
"We are not ready to do that. We will have a comprehensive comment at some time, but not today."
So you are still evaluating every facet of the organization?
"We are always doing that."
Will you change the philosophy at all with Jeff Ireland coming on board?
"I don't know what his philosophy is yet. We've talked about that but we haven't gotten into depth about the process, about ultimately what his philosophy is, but the discussions we've had were very, we seem to be very much aligned on some of those things. Look, we have a lot of time before the draft to determine what direction we are going."
What are your thoughts on what you have seen out here on the field at the Senior Bowl?
"I don't really have too many right now. I've been pretty much consumed with the staff but we have another day here and a practice this afternoon and tomorrow then we will meet and collect our thoughts and get everyone's opinion and go from there."
How much college scouting has Jeff Ireland been doing independently during the college season?
"I didn't ask him that question."
Have you paid attention to the deflated football issue in New England?
"No I haven't paid any attention to that."
As you got into the evaluation process, did you see that you were not getting the results out of the personnel department that you wanted?
"No I think first of all when you lose a guy of caliber like Ryan Pace, obviously that's a setback and we have to replace that. Look, I love the guys we have on our staff but I felt like we needed to add an experienced talented evaluator. And then once you make that decision, obviously you are looking at the pool of people that are out there. When you have an opportunity to get a guy like Jeff (Ireland) who has a lot of experience, who has been in the General Manager seat, and who I think can be a great resource in areas other than just the evaluation area, you want to cease that opportunity. We spoke and it became a good fit and that is where we are at."
Can you talk about firing Rick Reiprish while he was already at the Senior Bowl?
"There is never a good time for that, never. Coming to those conclusions, those decisions, that is a process that we had to get through. It just took a lot of time."
Are varied opinions within the personnel department, is that a good thing?
"Oh absolutely, if we are all thinking alike there is not much thinking going on."
Were Josh Lucas and Ryan Pace both free to go with their contracts or did you let them go?
"No they were both under contract. We are in favor of our people getting opportunities. Again, I will repeat myself, I knew years ago that Ryan Pace was going to be a General Manager, (that) he was going to have that opportunity. He was very patient. He's had opportunities to interview in the past, he has turned some of those down. But this one felt right for him. Man, I am excited for him. And then it is an opportunity for Josh (Lucas) to move up. That just tells me we are hiring the right people, we have the right people in our building and we've got some that are behind them that are going to be just as good. I am excited for those guys."
What is the biggest challenge with all the different moves at such a late stage?
"I don't really feel like it is a late stage. I do think this, they have to quickly get on the same page. We have to quickly identify what our offseason plan is here and get to work on it."
Can we ask you a basketball question?
"No, I am here for football."
Have you talked to Junior Galette?
"I haven't spoken with Junior, no."
Have you talked to Ryan Pace since he left?
"Yes, more than a few times."
What is it like?
"First of all, if anyone has a son who has graduated from high school or college you know how excited and proud you are and yet he is not your kid anymore. So it is a little of that feeling. I know that feeling of being overwhelmed right at first, but he has handled it well. He has made a lot of great decisions already. He did a great job at his press conference. I am just proud of him. We talk a little bit and mostly about personal things and how he is doing and a few questions here and there. He is going to do well."
Do you think he got the right coach?
Have you reached out to some veterans about contract negotiations and salary cap?
"Yeah, that is all part of our offseason plan and that is what we are in the midst of determining."
When you bring in a new guy is there a learning curve of your scouting language?
"Yeah, sure there is a learning curve. Jeff (Ireland) has done things differently than the way we've done it so we have to meld those two together and understand exactly that we are coming to the same conclusions or trying to get to the same conclusions but the process may be a little different, the language may be a little different, the emphasis on certain things may be a little different. It will take a little time to get on point with that but he's the guy that has to get on point with what the information that we've collected and gathered. He will do that quickly."
Has anyone been acting in an overseer role since Ryan Pace left on the college side?
"I think our department is pretty self-sufficient. I would say Terry Fontenot has done a great job of keeping the group together and going in the same direction. He is very talented, a very talented evaluator and he has great people skills and he is another guy that is going to be a General Manager in our league, probably sooner rather than later."
Was he in line for a possible promotion?
"We will see."
Do these types of moves help invigorate the entire department?
"I think they do, absolutely. I think it does and it will, yes, absolutely. I think when you get some new ideas or fresh looks at things, and sometimes we get a little too comfortable and that includes me. So there is nothing wrong with being a little uncomfortable right? I think the answer to your question is it will definitely invigorate you."
Is Jeff Ireland going to get Ryan Pace's old title?
"I will figure out the title here soon enough. The titles aren't as important as us just getting on the same page and moving in the right direction in terms of what our offseason plan is and the rest of that will take care of itself."
Does the Junior Galette issue concern you?
"I am concerned about it obviously. We all should be concerned about it. It is a serious matter. We are going to wait until the legal system runs its course and the league will obviously do their investigation. I think we are in a waiting manor right now."
Has the league begun an investigation?
"I don't know the answer to that."
If the case comes down to being negative, will it affect how you feel about the player?
"I don't want to speculate on that because there are so many variables. Obviously it is a serious matter that we are taking seriously but we have to let it run its course first."
Did you ask Terry Fontenot to step up or did he assume that role?
"I think a little of both really. I talk with him and expect him to do that and he was already doing it so that's the kind of guy he is and the talent that he has, he is a take charge guy and I like that, I like that about him."
Can you give an example about what Jeff Ireland suggests about different ways of doing things?
"We just agreed this morning. I can't answer that yet."
What do you find the most important part of these All-Star games? Is it being able to talk to them or seeing what they can do on the field?
"I think it is a combination. We are just collecting information. Obviously our scouts have seen these guys play. They have written reports on them. They have made evaluations, and yet it is another piece of information in a different environment with professional coaches, NFL coaches, and they get a chance to talk with them and interview. We are going to interview every guy. We are just gathering information right now. And how important it is ultimately depends on the information we gather."
How much weight do you put on those interviews when you get to talk to them?
"It just varies. We are trying to answer questions about these players that we may not know and trying to find a little bit about their communication skills and their passion for the game. There are just all kinds of things that you can gain from an interview, and obviously these guys can put their best foot forward and probably a coach at some level in terms of getting interviews but you can still pick up some things, so that is what we are here to do, pick up little tidbits."
Does it serve to help you focus your resources moving forward more than anything else?
"Yes, certainly, because the guys we can interview here are guys that we don't have to interview at the combine or at pro day. There are a lot of players to evaluate and to talk with and so we get to knock out some of the guys here just as our guys did last week at the East/West Bowl."
You seem to be working with a sense of urgency, how invigorating to dig in a little bit more than you usually do?
"I don't know that we are more invigorating, I guess that we are. We didn't meet our expectations this season. We have to roll up our sleeves and attack our issues so that is what we are doing whether that is more or less energy than we've had in the past I don't know it. I guess it kind of feels like it but we've had more change than we've had in the past with our staff obviously and we will see about our roster."
Does Sean Payton plan on coming this week?
"He talked about coming over for a day but I don't know if he is going to do that. He has his hands full back in New Orleans."
Did Ryan Pace have to ask your permission about Josh Lucas and what did Josh do well for you guys?
"Josh (Lucas) has been a good part of our college scouting staff for a number of years. He is a good evaluator. He has great people skills and so it is understandable that Ryan would want him and obviously he had the opportunity to go."
Does he have to ask you?
"Yes, certainly, because when a guy is under contract they have to send a request for permission and obviously they did that. It was a great opportunity for Josh to move up."
What is going on differently from a coaching standpoint?
"They are back doing some self-scouting and just the normal activity that you would do. Sean (Payton) felt like his staff would be better served to stay in New Orleans and do work on those aspects as opposed to being here."
Did you seek any input with Bill Parcells about Jeff Ireland?
"I did not."
Can you say anything about the decision to keep Rob Ryan?
"No, I don't have any comment about that. You need to ask that to Sean Payton."