<span>New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
(on how the season went for the Saints from start to finish) "I thought coming out of training camp that if we stayed healthy that we'd have a chance to have a pretty good team. As the season began to unfold, I think the one thing that we were able to do was handle some of the setbacks. We played from behind, we played with a lead. As the season unfolded, I liked our response in those games. I think you develop a vision. I think our players felt that."
(on the Colts' defense) "It's a defense with great team speed. I think they do a great job of rushing the passer. I think their linebacking group, as we watch them on film, are very good tacklers. The secondary does a great job within their scheme. I think it's important that your approach is one in which you're somewhat patient. You've got to be able to give (Drew) Brees protection. You always hope to have balance in a game like this. We don't want to become one-dimensional. What they do offensively can force teams to become one-dimensional. To some degree, what we've done this year has maybe forced teams to have to just throw. I think protecting the quarterback for both teams is going to be critical in this game."
(on "borrowing" Bill Walsh's prank of dressing up as a bellman to greet the team upon its arrival at the hotel) "I said yesterday that a guy like Bill Walsh is someone who has his hands all over this league offensively and practice schedule-wise and installation-wise. He was very successful in the postseason, and if we take a simple play that we like that he had success with, then why wouldn't we apply that to another aspect of what we're doing? I mean we flat-out plagiarized it (the prank). The only difference is we had our Pro Bowl players here ahead of time. It was a little different for us flying in without them, so all eight of them were in bellhop suits (along with Coach Payton). We had a little trouble getting a few to fit, but I thought it was good. The message was, 'Hey, let's relax a little bit here. We've got a big week in front of us.'"
(on the philosophy of preparing logistically for Super Bowl week) "We were in London a year ago for a week. We were relocated with (Hurricane) Gustav last year for a week in Indianapolis. We were in Houston this year for training camp for a week. We've got a good support group that can really take training camp and move it somewhere. Obviously, you try to prepare and there's going to be some glitches. But I think we travel pretty well and set up shop. Our setup at the hotel is fantastic. It's that of a training camp mentality. All our computers are here. We'll be drinking coffee until the wee hours tonight and just spending more time on the game plan."
(on if and when he will script his initial offensive plays for Sunday's game) "It'll probably be later in the week. I wanted to make sure that we didn't install the whole game plan last week. We did that in New York. There were a handful of players who couldn't practice last week. We've done pretty well off of byes, so we kind of backed off some of the practice snaps. They need to feel that sense of urgency as if the plan isn't in yet. So Wednesday, Thursday, Friday here, although there are a few things that are different, is going to be much like it would be in the regular season. Installation, run-install, pass-install, same way defensively, and then just practice it."
(on TE Jeremy Shockey and the perception that he is "different") "I don't know that that's necessarily the case, really. He's a guy that last night was floating around the meeting rooms and half the team is out for dinner. He's looking at tape and getting ice. So I think a little bit of that is mythical. It's fun to write about. He's a wiser, older player who understands that at this stage, you begin to fight the arrow down. In order to do that, you've got to rest more, hydrate. He's doing a good job progressing with the injury. I think he'll be ready. He's excited about it (playing in Super Bowl). I like his personality a lot. There's something that he has about him that brings a little confidence. You know our receivers are kind of quiet. There won't be a lot of people at their booths right now (on Media Day), and if there are, there won't be a lot of talking going on. He brings a little something to the huddle that I like."
(on what he takes from his previous Super Bowl experience with the Giants) "The venue has changed over the years. I think there are some similarities and there are some things that as a coach, you gather all of those things in your thoughts. And there's some things you want to do the same and some things that you want to do differently. There's a lot more nightmares about that Super Bowl than there are fond memories."
(on what his time working with the Giants means to him) "My time there was fantastic. It afforded me the opportunity to be with a great organization and to begin to really build the thoughts of putting together your own program. Ownership from the Tisch family, the Mara family, Coach (Jim) Fassel who gave me a great opportunity there, (General Manager) Ernie Accorsi…there were so many people that were a part of me being able to sit here right now. After four years, for them to allow me an opportunity to interview within the division (with Dallas) was something that I don't take lightly. They afforded me the chance to go with Bill (Parcells) to Dallas and that's a little unusual. Working for an organization like that, and then on with Dallas, those are special opportunities and certainly were for me in my growth period."
(on the role the Saints have played in the rejuvenation of the city of New Orleans) "I think the city is tied pretty closely to the team. Logistically, you're less insulated than you are in some other cities in regard to where you live. I think that's part of it. I think the fan base has been passionate about this team. After Katrina and the devastation, for them to be able to hang their hat on one common, consistent thing, and for that product to be successful was very important."
(on the key to this Sunday's game) "The game is always going to unfold in different ways. I was watching an NFL replay last night and they had the Giants-New England (Super Bowl) game on. I think a lot of people expected that to be a high scoring game. I think the two defenses that are here and that have been outstanding in the postseason, if you really look at what they've accomplished, Indianapolis in the postseason is pretty impressive. Our defense has stepped up as well. How the game unfolds, you don't know. Certainly with a quarterback like Peyton Manning, he can put points on the board quick."
(on his time as an assistant with the Eagles) "It was my first opportunity in the NFL and it gave me a chance really to learn. Ray Rhodes was the head coach, but Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan were the guys who were responsible for me getting hired there. I learned a lot in a short period of time working with Jon and that offense. It was a foundation for me that I still hold onto. It was a little bit like law school. There were a lot of late nights and a lot of early mornings. I learned about preparation. You come out of college and you get into this league, and you realize that there's a lot of football that you don't know. It can be humbling, but yet it was important."
(on his relationship with Jon Gruden) "He's been a big part of my development. When I got hired there (Philadelphia) in '97, just for me to really be a blank tape is what they were looking for, for me to study and learn. It afforded me a great opportunity. He's someone who is a close friend to this day. He spent some time with our players in training camp. He's got a great mind. He's a unique guy and he's very talented. It's just like the relationship I would have with (Bill) Parcells. There's a handful of people in this profession that you try to always stay in touch with them and pick their brain."
(on the #1 and #2 passing teams being in this Super Bowl and if the model for winning in the NFL has changed) "The games can vary how they unfold. Last night, watching the replay of the Giants-Patriots (Super Bowl), you saw a different game. I do think this. I think you've got to be able to convert third downs. Now, how you get to that third-and-four or third-and-three, whether it's by running the ball twice or throwing it. To get to those manageable third downs is important. I think you've seen a shift in 10 or 15 years, and some of the rule changes have certainly aided that. I think you're seeing quarterback play that's probably as good as this league has ever had. There's a dozen teams that are getting outstanding quarterback play, and I think you've got to go back a long way before you could say that."
(on the inspiration behind the motivational techniques that he uses with his players) "I've got a good staff and I lean heavily on my assistant coaches. There's some weeks where your team is going to be ready to play because it might be a Monday night game or a national TV game, or maybe a divisional game of importance. There's some weeks where maybe you've got to find something to change it up or bring attention to one specific coaching point that you want to get across. We try to do that and yet we try to make sure that we're brutally honest with our guys. I think this is a game when you look at even the NFC Championship last weekend, when you get in the postseason, it becomes more about the execution and the development of your game plan so that everyone is on the same page."
(on if the success of Drew Brees dispels the notion that you have to be a tall QB to have success in the NFL) "I don't think he's shown that but I think history has shown that. I think sometimes what is maybe mislabeled is his athleticism. He's a rare athlete. When you look at his foot agility, his release, his accuracy and the fact that he has hands as big as mitts, he's got a skill set that is perfect for the position. So on top of the hard work, and on top of all the things that you guys have read and written about-- a lot which is true-- he's an amazing athlete. He's a great tennis player, great basketball player, baseball player. The touchdown he scored here when we played against the Dolphins, he jumped up and spiked it over the upright. I just saw the tail end of it and I accused him of climbing up Jahri Evans' back to get the elevation. It's pretty unbelievable when you watch it. He's been a winner everywhere he's been. He won in high school, he won at Purdue with (head coach) Joe Tiller, he won with the Chargers and Marty Schottenheimer. He's very competitive. Some guys just have that and certainly you're seeing two quarterbacks this weekend that have that (competitiveness)."
(on what he took from the Bears and then-Head Coach Mike Ditka when he was a player there) "Coach Ditka was a lot like Bill (Parcells). He valued confrontation. When you're young and you're coming out of college and you come from a different system, it's eye-opening. It's not until you get older and wiser that you begin to appreciate why (he was like that). That was the one thing that I look back on. It wasn't a long period of time (that he was with Bears), maybe a month and a half, but certainly if there was anything bugging him, you would know about it. So there was nothing ever tabled. You want to be true to who you are, but it is important to address things and not table them, especially in a team environment. I think that once that's done, I think the players, coaches and everyone involved understand that that's just how it is. That can be healthy, rather than letting things fester or not addressing certain things at all. That's something that I think he was very good at."
(on the importance of role players on the Saints) "I know this has been said, but a kicking game snap, a punt team snap, a third down snap, they're all units that can make the difference in this game. If you went back and looked at the history of this game, you've seen kick returns that meant the difference between winning and losing. You've seen a fumble on a coverage unit, you've seen those plays just represent one six-second snap that's equally important to the other. Those plays involve other guys who are sitting over here with three people instead of 30. I think that's the message each week when you play because we can point to it each Monday after the game and specifically say, 'Here.'"
(on what he has learned from Bill Parcells) "I've said this before. There's a lot of on-the-job training. Daily, there might be something personnel-wise from an organizational standpoint, practice schedules, training camp schedules, whatever. He knows how to win and I learned an awful lot in a short period of time, three years. I look back on my career and I was touched by so many people that were successful and they're a big reason why I'm here right now. I'm humbled by that. When you think about that opportunity for a young guy to work for a Hall of Fame coach, it's invaluable. Honestly, he hired me over the phone. The very last thing we discussed was salary and benefits and any of that stuff. I hadn't even met him. The first time I met him was at Republic Airport flying on Jerry's (Jones) plane to Dallas. All of the other things were more important to him. The football and the passion…those were the things that he got excited about. We just drew on napkins on that flight into Dallas for about 2 ½ hours. He did most of the drawing and I just watched and listened. I had a couple of pieces of luggage and he had about eight with his tailored suits and everything."
(on Drew Brees having a great season following the death of his mother) "Drew lost his mom during training camp. People grieve that in a lot of different ways. He's a real strong person and that's what makes him somewhat unique. I lost my mother in 2002 during the bye week when I was in New York. Sometimes the season and the league can rob you of something because of how consuming it is. I remember when that year ended for me, it was a little bit of a blur. We were at the funeral and then three days later, you're putting a game plan together. I think ultimately for all of us, time is what helps us all. That's some of the uniqueness in Drew Brees that he was able to put that (grieving) somewhere, grieve and still continue with all of the responsibilities that he had."