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Sean Payton talks about Junior Galette's release, start of training camp

Payton met with the media Wednesday evening

Photos from opening press conference with Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis of the 2015 New Orleans Saints Training Camp presented by Verizon. Photos taken by Richard Crank (New Orleans Saints photos)

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
2015 Training Camp Presented By Verizon Opening Media Availability
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

You said in an interview the other day when talking about Junior (Galette) how you kind of felt as a coach that you had failed and you really took it to heart. Have you ever had a situation similar to that? I mean he was an undrafted free agent and that whole story, does that play into it?

"Well, my comments the other day weren't really reflecting that he was an undrafted free agent and really they were reflecting a player that we invested in."

I mean the investment and how he made the team as an undrafted rookie and all that?

"Yes, as a coach you want to see your players do well, you want to see them have success, you're pulling for them to do well. I use the analogy a lot, it's like a teacher who hands out tests and they obviously want to see the students do well and get good grades. I meant what I said the other day where we wish him well and yet there's a part of you that just gets frustrated that you weren't able to make that happen while he was here."

When you look at the importance of winning early, obviously you look at your history as head coach of the Saints, I thought it was unbelievable when you look at it, of the five winning seasons during your era, you started 3-1, 4-0, 3-1, 3-1, 4-0 and then the four seasons that you finished 500 or below it was 0-4, 2-2, 0-4, 1-3. If the Saints can get off to a great start can they have a great season?

"Jeff Duncan, I don't know if he is here but we visited a little in the spring. It was something just that we brought up in a column he was writing and I think if you took the first five weeks and went back and studied a lot of different teams, it might not necessarily be week one but at some point starting well. We have lost the opening game in 2011 but put together a really good season after that Green Bay game on the road but to your point, I think starting that first part of the season well is important. Certainly, with nine years now, we have experience that tells us that. Last season was the first year, not for us but for me, in five years where we didn't make the post season and we went through the 2012 year and got back in 2013, but we struggled early last year with some tough losses and never got back on track. We really weren't playing good football down the stretch at any point I didn't think. I think it will be important and look, the earliest part of our schedule is challenging this year and we're going to have to be ready. When you look at the teams that have won ten or eleven games or more that are on our schedule, most of them are going to appear in the first seven or eight weeks."

How challenging is it to sort of admit a mistake by cutting (Junior) Galette?

"Listen, it's not easy and yet at the same time the mistake magnified by three is pretending that it doesn't need to be done when you feel like it needs to be but obviously it became a decision by the team."

How personally disappointing was that for you, the way the whole Junior (Galette) thing played out?

"With regards to?"

Just how the whole situation played out when you had to come to that decision.

"Well, it's frustrating. Look it's disappointing, it's frustrating, (because) you want to see them (your players) do well. It can impact your team and at the same time, we felt it was in the best interest of our team."

Were you pretty certain all offseason that he would be with the team?

"No one has commented at all on timeframe so I wouldn't say that."

You talk about there being a team element, can you be specific on what that means?

"No, I'm being specific when I say it was best for the team."

Is there anything, as an organization, you can learn from that as far as giving someone an extension then him being off the team?

"Listen I think you learn all the time with contracts, timing, all of those things. Yeah, I think so. I  think you pay attention to that but I think we felt strongly at this time as we get ready to start this season, it was in the best interest of this year's club. I can't get any more clear than that."

If you look at Junior's (Galette) production last year, you get two guys in the draft to play outside linebacker, you bring in (Anthony) Spencer, do you feel like there's enough there?

"Absolutely. Where we're playing Cam (Jordan), what we're going do defensively, because there's some changes with how we (will) line guys up, absolutely."

Along those lines, when you look at the experience of the defense and the decision to release Brodrick Bunkley, did that have anything to do with signing Kevin Williams?

"(There are) two parts of that question. Let's start with Brodrick. He's a man that I know we've been pulling for from a health standpoint and there's still a little bit of time (left) with his rehab and so we had a long visit the other day and I think the world of him. With regards to his release, it had nothing to do with us saying we're going to move on. We just felt like at the time there still was quite a bit of work to be done with him and the rehab process. I'd say that we were pulling for him as far as anyone because he does have a presence, he's so well respected. Part of the reason that Kevin (Williams) probably was signed was knowing that we were going to need some depth and we feel Kevin can give us those snaps. We saw on tape last year with Seattle, we just have to be smart about how many snaps that is and what that pitch count is. We do have some younger players on the inside that need to step up. I think they will. It will be up to us to get the right combination of guys on the field, not only in the base but in the nickel and if that means our front gets altered a little bit then so be it. That's just smart coaching."

I asked Mickey (Loomis) about it, you guys have mentioned making sure some of the values and processes from 2006 are in place often this offseason. At what point did that become a vision and what is the reasoning behind it?

"I brought it up in the draft this year and it was just strictly to reinforce. Look, the 2006 draft class, and I've gone through this before, you take Reggie (Bush) in the first round, you take Roman Harper, there wasn't a third round (pick), you take Jahri Evans, Rob Ninkovich, Zach Strief, Marques Colston. There's a couple in there that didn't work out but there's a lot of guys playing near ten (years) and they're smart and they're tough. Now they have to be good football players, don't get me wrong, but it was really just in a meeting with our scouts saying 'hey look, we've got to be able to recognize these traits and value them accordingly.'"

Was last year the first time where you really felt that need to reiterate that?

"No, because I see where you're going with it, no. Look, it's been what we feel like has allowed us to be successful here and if you're not careful (you can stray from it). Look it's not complicated yet it's challenging, I said that in the spring. If you don't pay attention to that constantly, your hit ratio is not as good."

What went into the decision of putting Jairus (Byrd) and (Marques) Colston on PUP?

"Just strictly where they are at right now. It's pretty common when you start training camp (for some players to be on PUP). You just did a challenging conditioning test. Those guys are going be able to do that sooner rather than later so it's not unusual. I don't expect them to be there for a long period of time and yet I won't comment on why they are there, (and) their injury, but it's pretty normal."

Can you talk about your disappointment in last year in your team's number of turnovers, lack of forced turnovers and some mistakes late in games?

"I just thought last year there were a lot of things that we didn't do well and it wasn't just one side of the ball or the other. As a team, I just thought our team football (struggled), I've said this now for the twentieth time, we were that team. Drawn offsides, wrong timing situationally, obviously the turnovers factor in and all that contributes to winning and losing. You look at the games you play in and the number of games you play in and you're trying to recognize the difference between finishing ahead on the scoreboard four points or behind. Those are things you just can't do and have long term success, you might win one game but you're not going to win the amount of games that we're used to and want to."

Does this team kind of need a jolt to get back to the 2006?

"With regards to?"

Just to get back to the things you did.

"There wasn't one specific jolt that this team needed. We needed to improve so it's not like 'ok we're going to send a message.' We need to look closely at 'hey, what we need to do better?' 'What do we need to do as coaches?' There was not one specific instance where we sat and said 'alright'. If a move was made it was made because we felt like it was going to help us win games this year."

When you look at rushing the football, when you look at 2011, one of the greatest offensive seasons in NFL history, you had well over 2000 yards rushing. When you are in the meetings or when you are setting goals is it more the yardage or average per attempt?

"That's a fair question. I think there's games where it's going to be tougher. We played Detroit this past year and defensively with how they play and how they defend the run, that was going to be a challenge. That being said, you don't want to be forced to be one dimensional. You'd like to be able to control the game a little bit and so when you run the ball some, you do feel like have a little bit more control over what you are doing. But the efficiency number, average yards per carry, those are some things we look at (including) situational football, short yardage, goal line."

You are always changing things up to make changes to your football team. Will this camp at The Greenbrier be different then it was last year?

"Yes. I think it will be more challenging, I think the setup here is, I've said this before, but the facilities, the way it's laid out is idle for training and so I think this team will be ready for the challenge just based off the spring we just had."

Do you feel like you are starting a little ahead of last year just based off of the number participants you have had this offseason as opposed to all the players that had to sit out last year?

"I don't know that it's anything noticeable different. I think that we're starting like we would normally do. We had our full spring. When you deal with some of the guys that are injured, we dealt with that this year, I think it's more important. Look, it's about coming off the spring which is really a lot of walk through work, field work, getting ready to get acclimated to playing with pads on and full contact."

You talked about 2006 a lot, you have changes every year going into every season, is this the most changes that you've had maybe since 2006?

"I don't know. I would say from a numbers standpoint that there's probably an average per year. Rosters change, I don't know if that specifically there would be any more or less. We had a lot last year and there wasn't one specific one but we lost a lot of good leadership, a lot of good football players, whether they retired, finished playing, or going onto another team. You talk about Will (Smith) and (Jonathan) Vilma, Malcolm (Jenkins), Roman (Harper), (Darren) Sproles, Jabari (Greer). I think each year in our league brings some of that change. I would imagine if we sat down and charted it, we would maybe be able to look at years that had more than others."

When you look at the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it seems over the last couple of seasons that we would see 10, maybe 12 plays of live goal line in that situation which you would actually see in a preseason game. Is that pretty much what teams do when you see live drills because of the Collective Bargaining Agreement?

"Well, the CBA hasn't affected training camp periods in practice. In other words, it's impacted certainly the spring time, the type of practices you have, what you can wear, and the amount of practices and time on the field during training camp, when you guys watch, essentially we are in one-a-days. The second practice is not even a practice. It's a walk through, it's not a jog. It is what it is, it's the same for every team but in that practice that you have in the AM or the PM, whenever you have that main practice, we'll have live contact drills and I think it becomes that more important. So the short yardage, the goal line, nine on seven run, some of that will get physical and at times we'll just make it a live period."

Taking a step back like you did last year had to be difficult, does that have any effect on your personal confidence in yourself to get this team back to a championship level?

"No. It's difficult but shoot anytime you get hit in the mouth and maybe you don't have the success that you expect to have but no I wouldn't say that. It fuels the fire and one of the things that motivates people is that fear of not having success but no it'd been a while but you know what? That's the team we were and that's how we coached last year and it wasn't really good."

What did you want to be when you look at yourself and what did you want to change personally the most when you review yourself?

"We talk about the details and the specifics of what we do day to day. Look there's a number of things. I think evaluating how much were doing, who we're doing it with and what we are asking them to do. Those are important things when you look at the coaching team."

Do you look at a rhyme or reason for making or missing the playoffs based on training camp location, whether it's Millsaps or the Saints facility or here?

"You have to be careful and this happens not just in sports and in football, if there's some degree of failure you have to make sure you aren't operating on the wrong parts. It's easy to recognize facilities. I just think we're smart enough to look at things and look closely at why."

Will there be more teaching at this camp because it's a younger roster or does it all level out?

"There's more drafted rookies in this class and yet with our (overall) rookie pool, it means less rookie (undrafted) free agents. I think our rookie pool would be fairly similar (in size) give or take. We had them in earlier this year just from a conditioning standpoint. We were able to get some stuff done with them earlier (rather) than later. I think the spring benefits (them). There are a handful of guys I would say carried themselves with maybe a little bit more experience. It's been pretty impressive."

Are you concerned with the multitude of media and attention the Patriots might bring to the Greenbrier for joint practices based on the issues that have surrounded them this offseason?

"The good news is when that time comes we won't be in those long 30-minute press conferences. I have a feeling the coach from New England will be the same way. The beauty of training camp is we can control that. You guys know how I feel about Bill (Belichick) and their organization. I think they do a great job. This will be the third time we've had a chance to practice with them. Our teams have gotten good work out of it. It think that will be the case again in three weeks."

Do you have any comment on what is going on with the Patriots?

"No, it just seems like there is a lot of time and a lot of energy spent for the last nine years (on issues such as this) beginning with Starcaps and going on and on and on."

Did you yourself participate in the conditioning test?

"Yes, but later on, we had a good even number of groups. I thought they did very well. There's a little element that's different here. The sleds push on the turf a little different than they do on the turf at home. That friction is significant. I thought the guys handled it well well. It's a little tougher surface to push a sled on. But guys did well. They were in real good shape. The young guys tested out be it back at home on a little bit of a quicker track. But the guys handled it."

With how highly you think of Brodrick Bunkley personally and professionally, could he be a candidate to return if he can get healthy?

"Yes, we spoke about him in a week and a half or so of coming up here and speaking to guys and spending some time with our team. That would be fair."

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