Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints took some heat when they decided to hire Rob Ryan this offseason. Sean Payton doesn’t particularly care about that heat. Now reinstated and gearing up for the 2013 season, Payton says the team did its homework and did what’s best for the program.
Sean Payton joined WWL in New Orleans with Deke Bellavia and Bobby Hebert to discuss New Orleans hiring Rob Ryan, veteran Saints players considering all the veterans around the league getting cut, his main priorities for 2013 and the upcoming NFL Draft.
What do you say to those that are critical of your hire of Rob Ryan?:
“Listen, it’s great they have an opinion. I’m certain we’ve got some of the best football fans in the world. The interest level in our program and our team every year … that’s just the excitement our fans have, and their passion. But what’s most important is making choices and decisions that aren’t based on popularity. Rob’s a guy that’s got a great pedigree. He’s a guy that’s confident, he’s a guy that brings a certain amount of enthusiasm to his units. … So, you spend your time, you do a lot of homework, but clearly you’ve got to do what’s best for your program.”
On many veterans getting cut around the league and what that might mean for guys like Jonathan Vilma and Roman Harper:
“First off, I do envision those guys in a Saints uniform, and yet I’m also realistic and understand that every year, since the beginning of free agency, the percentage of players on your roster that turn over is different than it used to be. There was a time when you had your draft and you wondered what two or three rookies were going to beat out guys that were currently on the roster. … It’s as simple as a household budget. If you’re going to have cable and you’re going to eat, you’re not going to be able to have something else. … Often times you weigh production, weigh players that have been in your program. … There’s no one set format.”
What are your top three priorities heading into the 2013 season?:
“We’ve got to play better defensively and we’ve got to run the ball better. They go hand-in-hand. I think, statistically, Week 4 or 5 of the season last year, we were 32nd in defense and 32nd in rushing. Those are bad numbers that equate to losses and it’s no coincidence that we were 0-4 at that time.”
Will you guys take the best player available in the draft or draft for your needs on defense?:
“I think you go in and you begin to clump players. Today we did a few different position groups. … You’re looking at those top 15, 16, 18 players. It depends on whose board you’re looking at. But I do think you’ve got to pay attention to what the value is and how they’re graded. That being said, usually, No. 1 you make sure you like 15 guys if you’re picking 15, or at least you’ve rated your board so you’re prepared for each scenario. … I think sometimes your mistakes are made in your value, where you’re saying that you want a safety, for instance, and you’re trying to create a safety and maybe you tend to grade a little higher so you can pick one, and all of the sudden you pass up on a good football player.”