Why They're Good

Friday, January 13, 2012

I have noted several times here already that I am a big fan of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton. And while I'm grateful for his turning the team from a perennial laughingstock to a perennial powerhouse, there's much more to like. Yahoo! News notes that this year's squad, "currently 14-3 and headed full throttle into Saturday's divisional round playoff game at San Francisco", has a roster loaded with my kind of player:

Nineteen of them share a similar background -- they went undrafted coming out of college. Six more Saints were picked in the seventh round (most by other teams), meaning 25 active players, or more than 47 percent of New Orleans' team, got here the hard way.

Having this concentration of such players -- on a team as good, as talented and as explosive as New Orleans -- though is stunning.

Around the locker room they point to the keen eye of the scouting staff and the savvy of general manager Mickey Loomis.

More often than not, though, they cite the culture created by head coach Sean Payton, who perhaps more than anyone in the NFL has managed to block out résumés from his week-to-week evaluations. Instead, he trusts what he sees, not what someone else, or even himself, saw previously. [bold added]

"I think it's a lot easier to be fair than to try to be fair," Payton said.
What I like particularly about Payton is his willingness to admit mistakes and correct them. He's in it to win, not to fool anyone else or himself:
What isn't easy is being so willing to replace players that you've invested draft picks, money and your own credibility in selecting in the first place. For many, that's an ego bruise that clouds the entire evaluation.

Not Payton.

"Sometimes you miss them in the evaluation process," he said with a shrug. "And then sometimes maybe you over-evaluate a player.

"I think what we ... do is evaluate the performance of each player once they get here and really try to separate ourselves from how they arrived here. [We] really try to look at getting the best players on the field regardless of whether they were drafted or signed as free agents or in some cases even in workouts situations."
And there's more. The article describes how Payton sets the tone in training camp (One player is quoted: "You don't have a security blanket here.") and fosters a culture of accomplishment.
And it's not with a roster stuffed with former college All-Americans or glamour picks and big-name free agents. Instead it's a disproportionately large collection of guys who, finally given their crack at stability, have wound up playing like they belonged all along.

"You give a guy an equal opportunity," Collins said, "and some will surprise you."
In particular cases, perhaps, but this is not a surprise, in general.

Read the whole thing.

-- CAV

PS: Geaux Saints!

No comments: