Payton made his Saints like the Belichick Patriots | Saints



When the New Orleans Saints hired Sean Payton, the first head coach studied some of the NFL’s most successful organizations and focused on one in particular.

He wanted to know everything about how this franchise works, from how she built her roster to the systems the team deploys. Payton wanted to find the best way to build a lasting winner, so he turned to the benchmark.

“We spent a lot of time watching New England,” Payton said.

At that point, Bill Belichick was about to enter his seventh season as New England coach. His teams had won three of the last five Super Bowls and the Patriots were asserting themselves as the new dynasty of the NFL. Payton said it would have been stupid not to take a close look at how they worked.

Fast forward almost 16 years, and Payton has done what he set out to do since he first dissected the New England model, building a lasting winner from a franchise that had little accomplished before his arrival. Sunday will mark Payton’s 244th game as coach of the Saints, including the playoffs. Belichick will be standing on the opposite sideline for his 380th game as the Patriots head coach.

They are the longest-serving NFL head coaches. The Patriots named Belichick’s coach on January 27, 2000 – three days after current Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay celebrated his 14th birthday. Payton is the author of nearly twice as many wins as the Saints coach (153) than the combined career total of his contemporary NFC South coaches (82).

Seven teams have hired new head coaches this offseason, nearly a quarter of the NFL. The Cleveland Browns have gone through nine coaches since the Saints announced the hiring of Payton. In a high-stakes league that can be defined by its high turnover in its highest management positions, Belichick and Payton are the modern standard bearers of longevity.

“He’s always been someone who’s been a bit of a mentor, someone who I feel like I have a good relationship with,” Payton said of Belichick. “It really started with the respect factor and what he was able to accomplish.”

Their successes have been supported by their processes, but they are also bright and widely respected footballing minds whose ideas always seem to flow into the highlights of other teams. And, perhaps most importantly, their dynamism has kept them relevant in an ever-changing, younger and faster game.

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“To have the stamina he’s had is obviously remarkable, and myself here – for the time we’ve been here – there are certain things that are not negotiable and there are certain things that I think you do. adapt and you adapt over the long period of time, ”Payton said.

Conceptually schematically and high-profile, Payton and Belichick have earned a lot of respect and admiration from their NFL peers and occasional fans – Payton as an offensive genius, Belichick as a defensive brain.

What they have in common is their belief that the devil is in the details.

Although they never shared a staff, Belichick and Payton both strayed from Bill Parcells’ coaching tree. Maybe that’s why when people talk about Belichick and Payton in the same breath, they identify the thing that they’re both great at.

Darren Rizzi spent a decade as the Miami Dolphins special teams coach trying (and often failing) to knock down the Belichick Patriots from the AFC East top, so he got a good idea of ​​what went wrong. operates this machine. Then, a few years ago, Rizzi took on the role of special teams coach in New Orleans and got to see how Payton worked up close.

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“Both coaches preach a lot of the same messages,” Rizzi said. “Winning the turnover battle, winning the situations – third down, red zone. From all those years of playing (the Patriots) a few times a year, there were a lot of similarities that I saw when I got here in the way they coached the team.

One grew up in Alabama and played college football in the state of Florida.

It’s about knowing where the games are traditionally won and lost, and doing everything possible to use those moments to an advantage.

The Saints, for example, devote a great deal of their training time to situational football. They will go through endless two-minute and red zone exercises. Payton constantly insists on third downs, rotation margins and possession time. He’ll tell you about points hidden in a sack that puts a team out of range of the placement baskets, or how a conversion from third held in the red zone is a four-point game. Payton will physically adjust the receivers in practice a few inches in one way or another to make sure they have the proper spacing for the playing function to be perfect.

“The little things,” Rizzi said. “The detail. The way you practice, the way you manage the team and the message. All of these things have made these two coaches a great success in their own right.”

And the teams that win the key situations are the ones that never give up.

After facing a team coached by Belichick a few times during his career, Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has said every game in these games is essential.

“They stress you out in every game to play it exactly right and to play it perfectly in every situation, and if you don’t, they take advantage of it,” Allen said. “A lot of the same similarities you see with Sean in terms of situational intelligence, understanding the situation and how to play the situation and, again, creating stress for the opposing team.”

Football genius and mastery of the situation pushed Belichick and Payton to the top of the NFL. But that’s not what kept them there. It goes back to one of the things Payton identified when he studied the Patriots at the time.

They have surrounded themselves with talent and intelligence, and they are constantly renewing their roster with players who match their vision and culture. They both enjoyed excellent all-time quarterback play, but they were also the ones who trusted those quarterbacks in the first place when other organizations saw them as flawed.

Chris Hogan is one of the few Saints players to have played for both coaches. He spent three years with the Patriots and played in one Super Bowl each of those seasons, winning two. Sometimes when he is in a team meeting with the Saints, the message is so similar that he feels like he is listening to Belichick speak.

He’s not been here long, but there is a familiarity between the two organizations – two places that emphasize strokes outside of 40 times and vertical jumps. Hogan understands that neither coach cares what others think, and both are committed to playing the top 11 players no matter what.

“That’s what Bill has been doing for so long, and I think that’s why the two (Payton and Belichick) have been able to be so successful in this league,” Hogan said.

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