NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Sean Payton proclaimed his love for New Orleans and desire to coach the Saints as long as he was allowed to on January 5th but the real work of the offseason was just beginning.
Since then he has hired multiple new coaches, completed offseason evaluations of the current roster and dove headfirst into the draft process, most notably attending the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama this week. He spoke with reporters Tuesday and the following is a copy of that conversation, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
What are your thoughts about what you have seen so far here?
"I thought the practice was pretty crisp. You're trying to focus on a few players. It is hard to watch it all. We've been in now for a little over a day. We have a chance to really visit with a lot of these guys kind of in an interview setting, and that helps you when it comes to the (scouting) combine with your numbers. It's kind of changed over the years. I think Phil Savage has done a great job of kind of organizing it and putting it all together."
Can you talk about Dan Campbell and some of the other (coaching hires)?
"I first got to work with Dan (Campbell) when I was with the Giants and we drafted him out of Texas A&M, and then later, with the Cowboys, we had signed him in free agency. I have always followed his career. I'm just a huge fan. We had a short timeframe in '09 where he was with us (in New Orleans) before he retired. He is just a hard worker (and), I think, a real good teacher. He will come into the tight end position. Dan Roushar will move over into the offensive line position. Of course, he has had a ton of experience coaching the offensive line. That (Dan Campbell) was a good hire for us. On defense, Aaron Glenn will come and coach the secondary. He too had a brief stop before the end of his career with us. I was with Aaron (Glenn) at the Cowboys. Most recently, he was at Cleveland. (He was) a real smart player, a guy that played a long time in this league, and really has a good understanding of the back end. He was always that guy that players gravitated to with questions studying film. We are excited about being able to sign him and hire him. Peter Giunta will be a senior defensive assistant. He's a veteran NFL coach. I've never worked with Peter but I know obviously (about him). I have competed against his teams back to St. Louis when he was with the Rams. He was the defensive coordinator in their Super Bowl season. He has been at the Chiefs, and then most recently with the (New York) Giants. His experience, I think, will help us tremendously. He will be a real good ally for Dennis (Allen), in regards to just having seen and done a number of things. He will help us in the back end (and) with third down. He's just one of the real sharp veteran coaches that, going back to (working for) Bud Carson with the Eagles, that is where he cut his teeth. He is real impressive."
Why did you want to make a switch at offensive line coach? What is it that you wanted to change up?
"There were a few things. I think that you are trying to look at the big picture. Obviously, Bret (Ingalls) and I have coached a long time together, prior to even here. I think overall, philosophically, I know Dan Roushar's background, and I think that he will bring a certain element to the room. It is just one of those tough decisions that I thought was necessary. Those are never easy. I think Dan's (Roushar) obviously coached the offensive line, he's coached a number of different positions (and) he has coordinated offenses. I think Dan Campbell moving to tight end will be a real good addition to our staff. Kyle DeVan was hired by Mike Neu (at Ball State). Brendan Nugent, a name you would not know, will move into Kyle's role and work with Dan Roushar. Greg Lewis got hired by the Eagles last week. Shoot, he was in the room prepping for the interview with me, going through a few things, and got in his car to drive home and he received the call that he had gotten the job, and then drove back. I was mad at him because he did not have to sweat through an interview. It felt like he was going to get the job. I am excited for him and his family. He was a great staff member for us. That is the one spot that I'll probably try to fill this week, that offensive assistant position that'll work with Johnny (Morton). Joe Lombardi comes back and he takes the quarterbacks job that was vacated by Mike (Neu) when he went to Ball State. There has been quite a bit of shuffling, if you will. Some of the guys I am familiar with, and in the case of Peter (Giunta), I am really familiar with what he has done and having really competed against his teams."
Will Dan (Campbell) have that run game coordinator role?
"No, Dan Roushar and Dan Campbell will work at that together. Joe Vitt is our assistant head coach on defense, and then Dan (Campbell) will kind of have that role on offense. We typically sit in a room for a long time and kind of go through the run and the pass. Sometimes, it is not always as efficient. It is tedious, and yet that helps me out."
When you shuffle as many things as you have this year with the coaches, does that reinvigorate you?
"Yes, I think so. I have said this before – I am always excited when guys have a chance at a promotion. To see Mike Neu receive a chance to be a head coach at his alma mater is exciting, and I am glad that opportunity came for him. Wesley McGriff had a chance to go back in a role in college that he was really excited about. When guys get promoted and have opportunities, I always think that is a pretty good thing. We go through last week's process and reading our players (and) there are a lot of new faces in the room. I think it'll be good for our staff."
Last year you ended up drafting four players that were at this game; can you speak to this game specifically as opposed to the (Scouting) Combine, and why it worked out that way? Was that just a coincidence?
"I think it was probably a little bit of a coincidence. There is something about a senior that if two players were equal, one a junior and one a senior, the player that has been at school longer and maybe graduated – this environment is so different because you get to see them in contact, you get to see them in one-on-ones, you get to see them a lot more than maybe a combine or a pro day. This bowl has had a history of really successful players in our league. Obviously, it's the Senior Bowl, so it is the premier all-star game for these guys. The challenge is that there are a lot of juniors that come out that can't play in this game. For us, (we) really just focus on who it is we're evaluating here. I think there is a little bit of an advantage when you get to coach in this game too because there is that added time when you're installing, teaching and being around the players. This year, I know the Jacksonville and Dallas staffs are coaching the game and I'm sure they will do a good job. It's easy for us (being) two hours away. It's one of the advantages of the location for us. To see the football drills and see those guys in that environment, is really good."
You have had Jeff (Ireland) for about a year and a new mixture of returning and new scouts; how have you seen things change or improve?
"This will be the first draft with three or four new scouts. We met last night here. You're beginning to listen to – it's too early yet because you haven't heard them read a player. When we meet today, it was strictly what we're seeing with the two rosters, what their early reports would indicate and what we want to see from a player this week, maybe to answer to some questions. After we go through this draft, maybe I'll probably be better able to answer the question because there are a handful of new faces."
Does it help you to be at these events with them, and kind of see how they go through it?
"Yes, I think so."
What are some of the things that you are looking for from players here?
"I think it is a handful of things – how they interact when they are away from the meetings, on the field, how they are competing, do they stand out in a good or a bad way. If you can just sit and watch a couple guys and just literally watch the two hour practice, you kind of get a good idea of how that first practice is going to be when he is on your team. That is something that you can't do the rest of this evaluation process. To see how they handle – some of them are coming up from a small school and some of them are already at a big school and competing against somebody else at a large level, they are all trying to make impressions. When they are practicing, that field impression, if you watch long enough, is pretty important."
Do you feel like you guys are hitting the ground running a little more this offseason at this time of year as compared to last year?
"Honestly, I would much rather be behind, when it comes to your own evaluations and staff movement. When you play in the postseason, it seems to take weeks out of your offseason schedule. There is a little more continuity when it comes to the scouting staff and with some of the changes that were made after the draft. I would say the same thing with the coaching staff because a few of those things happened right away, with guys getting a chance to get another position. We were fortunate to hire a few, I think, (a) handful of good coaches, and get that done prior to coming here. It is hard coming here when you have to visit with two or three different coaches regarding interviews. I'll meet with a couple of guys to replace Greg (Lewis), but I think that the meetings leading up to this event, this whole week, were all pretty clean and ahead of schedule."
When you guys were evaluating your current roster, was there anything that jumped out at you?
"It'd be hard to go into specifics. We do it every year. It's a certain exercise that I learned from Bill (Parcells). You try to really evaluate the player for just that year. You try to go through each player on the roster, and also talk about the vision moving forward. It would be unfair to go through any specific player. It's a pretty long process. It is four days where you can just divide it up. You're spending maybe a half an hour on a player. It is the training room, it is the weight room, it is the position coach and it's the coordinator. It's four or five different evaluations."