Sean Payton: “There’s No Promise of us Being an 11- or 12-Win Team just Because the Head Coach is Back”

January 25, 2013 – 8:30 am by Brad Gagnon

Sean Payton is back and thus the expectations have grown significantly for the 2013 New Orleans Saints. Sure, New Orleans was a perennial contender with Payton on the sideline, but this team looked so bad at times last year that it’s tough to tell what they’ll do with Payton coaching again next year. One thing’s for sure, though: the guy means business right now.

Sean Payton joined Deke Bellavia and Bobby Hebert on WWL in New Orleans to discuss his challenging time away from the Saints and the NFL and his return to the team. He also touched on the Saints’ problems on defense, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and the altered expectations now that his suspension has been lifted. The interview was conducted before Payton fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and announced that the Saints are switching to a 3-4 defense.

On what the biggest challenge was in regard to being suspended for the entire season:

“The idea of being eight months removed from being able to talk to people that are your closest friends. Mickey Loomis and I would visit daily and half the time it would be something other than football. … So that part of it was the biggest challenge of being removed from the team. Certainly there’s that football element — the competition and all of those things that you love about the game — but just the friendships, the relationships, and going blank for eight months was difficult. But it’s good to see these guys, good to get back and see these faces.”

On what will change as he returns to the team in 2013:

“I won’t make the same mistake just in regards to being involves in all phases. Certainly I’m going to be a lot more involved in the offense and I look forward to that. I do that, I enjoy that. But those are some of the things — and it’s not looking back at a decision prior to ’09 or ’10 or ’11, but it’s a culmination of where things go and what begins to happen. So we’re looking for the right people and the right people that fit our program. We’re proud of what we’ve tried to do and accomplished with regards to bringing in the right type of players and the right type of people that are gonna represent this team and this city well, play with passion, energy and effort. And that same accountability is how we should approach our coaching staff.”

On the team’s defensive problems in 2012:

“There are a lot of things we’ve got to improve on. Certainly this defense…was very disappointing. And we’re in these meetings right now with these defensive players and we’ve got a lot of work to do. … When you finish in the top five in our league, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re doing it with good players and there’s a pretty good chance that it’s been coached well and you’re doing the right things. It’s a combination of all the elements that go into being successful. Drafting right, making the right decisions. But when you finish as bad as we did defensively, then again, you’ve gotta look at all three aspects. … We’ve gotta do a better job coaching. We’ve gotta be better in personnel. Everyone’s hands got a little bit in that pudding.”

On his confidence in offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael:

“I’ve got a ton of confidence in Pete Carmichael. He’s been tremendous for us. He’s been a great coach for our staff. I’ve seen his progression when he came here as quarterback coach, moved into the coordinator role then moved into playcaller role. Each step he’s handled very smoothly.”

On expectations being higher now that he’s back:

“There’s no promise of us being an 11- or 12-win team just because the head coach is back. Look, if we don’t get certain things corrected, we could end up being a five-win team. So we’ve got a lot of things we’ve gotta do better.”

Listen to Sean Payton on WWL here

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