New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Do you have to do anything differently when a new head coach steps in like Dan Quinn is this week?
"No, I don't think so. No, I don't think so at all. These guys have been playing really good football, really in all three phases of the game; the kicking game, offense, and defense. I don't think that really comes down to all the nuances the managing of a game. That doesn't really impact us."
Who's the starting quarterback this week?
"We'll see. I want to see how Taysom Hill is doing tomorrow. Obviously, we're trying to get him back off of this foot injury. It'll be either him or Trevor Siemian."
If Taysom Hill is healthy, will he be the starting quarterback?
Will Taysom have to be put through pre-game drills to see if he can play?
"That's a good question. It happened at Tennessee and he's gradually gotten better each week. It takes a minute (to heal). Last week when that topic got brought up, I just knew it wouldn't be right to put him back there (at quarterback) with the shape his foot was in at that time. It has gotten better. I want to see how tomorrow goes. We have a lot of time before we play, so we'll kind of go from there."
Didn't Drew Brees deal with a similar foot injury that Taysom Hill is experiencing now?
"He did. (Brees') was fully torn and it gradually just comes back sometimes. There's not a lot of blood flow to that area (in the foot), so sometimes you do some things that can bring it back quicker. I had the same thing in training camp doing some silly thing on the field. It took me, for someone in their fifties, it felt like forever (to recover). I know at that time Beau (Lowery) said he was going to dry needle (my foot). Drew (Brees) said, 'Hey, it really helps, but this will be the most painful thing you've ever experienced.' So, I went into the training room and there was the towel on the table that you usually put your head on. I said, 'All good Beau?' and he said, 'You're going to need the towel' so I put my head on it and he said 'No, you're going to need the towel to bite down on.' So, I put the towel in my mouth. They proceeded to put five needles into my heel, basically to the bone. I needed the towel. That was the worst news. The news that was worst after that was that I needed to repeat that process two or three more times. I remember just dreading that. What that (dry needling) did was create more trauma and help the blood flow through that (heel) area. (Dry needling) helped me a lot. I don't think (Taysom Hill) has had to do that yet. He's in a little better shape than I am."
Did Jimmy Graham have that same injury when he partially tore his foot?
"Yeah, you know, it's been a minute. I wouldn't at all doubt it. It's just one of those (recoveries) that can be slow based on the severity of the tear."
What year did you have that injury?
"Oh gosh. We went to Atlanta and won on Thanksgiving (2019). It was that year, because after the game I can recall getting another dose (of dry needling). So, it was 2019. I hurt it in training camp, so it gives you an idea of (the long recovery process) since it lasted until Thanksgiving. Fortunately, these guys are in a lot better shape than I am and will recover quicker than that."
Was the second dry needling session just as painful as the first?
"Every one of them was the exact same. Every once in a while, one of the needles would go in and you wouldn't feel anything, but for the others, you needed the towel each time."
How important was Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones counsel to you as a young coach in the NFL during your time with the Cowboys, especially when the Raiders job became open?
"Yeah, look, a lot when on during that first year. It was the 2003 season, we won 10 games, and went to the playoffs. That (Oakland) opportunity came up. Bill (Parcells) was really good. He was the head coach, but at the end (of his Dallas tenure), he stepped away and talked about the situations and scenarios of the NFL. Jerry (Jones) was the same way. You never know as a young coach when that first (head coaching) opportunity will come. You're going 100 mph and you know, there's only 32 of those jobs. It ended up being a good decision (not taking the Oakland job).
What made you ready to move on when you interviewed with the Saints?
"That came in 2006. I had interviews scheduled with Green Bay (Packers), New Orleans, and Buffalo (Bills). I went to Green Bay first and came here the next week. I think it was a week after that (accepted the New Orleans job)."
Did you ever consider waiting to be the heir-apparent to Bill Parcells, knowing he wasn't going to be the Dallas coach much longer?
"Look, there was no time frame. So, some of you guys, Jeff (Duncan) and Mike (Triplett), you guys have been here a long time. It took about eight or nine years for people to finally say, 'Ok, he's not going to the Cowboys.' In other words, I understand (people thinking that), but I don't know when that thought stopped. Eventually it just went away. I think at that time, Bill was going well, and Mike (Zimmer) was still there, and he was eventually going to move on. When all of a sudden there are three job openings you're involved in (Green Bay, New Orleans, Buffalo), it is too hard (to stay put). I think both Bill and Jerry (Jones) were helpful during that stretch relative to looking at the opportunities and those sorts of things. They were honest with me. I went to Green Bay first and I visited with Mickey (Loomis) down in San Antonio first, really. That was on the night Texas beat USC (in national championship game). The reason I remember that was after visiting with Mickey in San Antonio, I flew back to Dallas to prep for my interview with Green Bay because my interview was the next day. I think the National Championship was on a Monday and I flew to Wisconsin on a Tuesday and went back to New Orleans on a Wednesday. The Saints had basically left San Antonio and I came here the second day (upon organization's return from being in San Antonio due to Hurricane Katrina) they were back. There was sheetrock and debris everywhere. That was the progression. I remember that well."
Do you ever get pissed off when you're coaching guys up?
"Sure. The most important thing for any team is, each week there's hope and here's how we win this game. You know, is it difficult? Yeah. The hardest thing is when you put so much time into each week and you don't get the results you're looking for, you have to buck up again. There is a toughness element that is required when you play in this league. When you coach in the league long enough, you know there are going to be momentum swings during games and during (the) season. Pick a season in anyone of the last four seasons there's stretches where you have to get past some adversity. That's kind of where we're at now. There's no magical answer coming through the door, it's (going to be) from deep down from within, in the details. Yeah, you have all of those emotions. Sometimes you're picking all the players up and sometimes you have to call guys out, that kind of thing."
How do you know when to pick guys up or call them out? Is that just from instinct?
"Yeah, I think number one, it can't be contrived. It's got to be your gut and how you feel."
What is your reaction to Sam Mills going into the Saints ring of honor?
"Yeah, listen, I'm excited. I say that because periodically, Jim Mora Sr. is around at practice and training camp at times. You know, we've had conversations where I've said, 'Hey, is there anyone we're missing that isn't represented from the past Saints teams?' I remember two years ago during training camp; we were just discussing his teams and he was discussing his defense. All he talked about was how great of a player Sam Mills was. In other words, how smart of a player he was. He had Sam Mills on his teams in Philadelphia and he just talked about how significant (Mills) was to what they did defensively. I know he had a chance to coach in Carolina, but I think Mickey, Mrs. Benson, and I along with the powers at be knew this day was coming. Yeah, I'm super excited to see that happened. I just know from talking with Jim how much he felt from a talent standpoint that Sam Mills belonged in (the ring of honor). When we started this, we said if you have to spend half an hour discussing (if a player qualifies for the ring of honor), then probably not. I'm sure there will be some future tough decisions. I don't think (Mills) was one that we would have to spend half an hour discussing. It was just about finding out which year (to honor him)."
If a guy went on the COVID-19/Reserve list, how much does that affect your game plan?
"Not much, honestly. If you want to know the truth, it's just like monitoring the injury report. You're looking at how it's impacting the roster more than the coaches because you really can't control that. That doesn't impact anything you're doing (as a coach). But you pay attention to it no differently than the injury report."
Have you heard anything from the NFL league office on the status of Deonte Harris' appeal for his 3-game suspension?
"No, we haven't. You guys will probably hear when I hear. But no, we have not."