New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, January 7, 2022
I know you haven't been in a situation in a while, but like if you're Arthur Smith, and you're coaching this team that has already been eliminated, I guess how do you sort of motivate the team? And how hard is it to do I guess, when they're not really playing for anything?
"Look, I mean, number one, all the tape we've seen on Atlanta has been impressive. And I say it because Arthur's there, you got a new program, a new staff, new general manager, Terry (Fontenot) we know well, and you look at the games these guys have played, shoot our first game, we're going to get their best effort. Anytime you play in this league, it's important. And so it's an important game for us. And I would argue, just on the other side, it's an important game for them. Anytime you're building a program you're wanting to see improvement, you're wanting to see all the things that lay the foundation for success."
Speaking of that, building the program, just how important is culture? And this is kind of abstract, like, how do you go about building that, to have that winning culture? It seems like that's something that's really fed you guys this year?
"Yeah, look, number one, I think it starts with the people, the ingredients. And that's everyone, it's players, it's coaches, your training room, your equipment room, everyone in the building, and finding the right people. I think it's then the little things, the details, but I think what's paramount is starting and finding the like minded people that share the same goals."
Was there a point in your career when you realized that the culture was like, finally, like it was where you want it to be? Like, at what point did you realize you had got there?
"It's a little bit like a garden in that you've got to tend to it kind of every day. We had a hard training camp that first year '06. Honestly, I didn't know what kind of team we had as a first-year head coach, and you're anxious to see. It felt like we were six months in that training camp. And then we had some early success, which gives you confidence. You hear me talk all the time about that. And so that first year, we built the foundation with the draft class, we built the foundation, we were going through all the different players that we brought in that year. We had a good playoff run and then we fell on some hard times in '07 and '08. But that '06 class and the '06 training camp and the '06 beginning I think helped us relative to the '09 season and then '10, '11. And then, look, there for a little bit after '13 it wasn't as good. And then again, it gets back to your procurement (of the right) players and the coaches. And so it's never just stationary. It is something that you have to work at."
Marquez Callaway said yesterday he's kind of starting to feel like he belongs after a couple of these bigger games. Can you see that in a young player when that's coming on? And see just kind of their belief in themselves grow?
"Absolutely. We saw signs of it last year. And I think, look, if he says it, you're seeing it. He made a lot of big plays for us last week, and he's receiving a lot of targets. I think he has strong hands. Sometimes when you're undrafted, you have build that confidence maybe, but I certainly think he feels like not only he belongs but he can make a play when we need one."
You were talking about the culture and establishing that foundation earlier. Having that foundation in place, did you feel very confident that that was what was going to get you through the adversity that you were facing this season? Were you confident that you were going to be able to weather everything that was thrown at you this year?
"Well, when you start a year, you don't know what it entails. But back to the initial part of the question, the reason that you're finding the right players and the right people is not necessarily for success. It's to rebound because, we just finished talking about it, in this league when you're playing 17 games or in the past 16 games it's such a long journey that there's going to be some ups and downs. And so getting back up Monday, coming in after a loss and getting back to work isn't necessarily easy but you have to have the right guys and you have to have the right players and the right leadership and a team that cares about each other. It doesn't guarantee success but it can certainly help when you hit some adversity."