|Saints continue to use Patriots as a blueprint||08.10.10 at 2:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Saints have made no bones about the fact that they model themselves after the Patriots in just about everything they do. From the coaching staff to player acquisition to preparation, New Orleans coach Sean Payton has said on several occasions that when it comes to making a decision about his team, he thinks to himself: What Would Belichick Do?”
“I’ve said this a number of times. When we got hired in 2006, we looked closely at New England in regards to what they were doing. Clearly, they were the model, and we’re not afraid to talk about that,” Payton said Tuesday after the first of three joint practice sessions between the Saints and Patriots in Foxboro.
“There’s a ton of times I’ve brought up — this is an organization that gets it. They put the team first. They do a great job of bringing in the key veteran players. They’ve got good quarterback play, they’re unselfish, and all those things you talk about. Like any business you study closely that’s successful, this is the team we’ve paid attention to.”
It was a point echoed this morning by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees.
“I think anytime you can come and practice against a team like the Patriots, who really you could call the team of the decade — their sustained level of success is the envy of the whole league, including us — for us to be able to come up here and get this type of work against them is great,” Brees said.
“They’re a team and an organization that we kind of aspire to be, that team, a perennial playoff contender and somebody who is vying for a championship every year and has a legitimate shot. We knew that, obviously, our next step in our growth as a team and as an organization was to be able to beat a team like that on Monday Night Football in front of a huge audience.”
One of the challenges the Patriots have faced in the past that New Orleans must deal with this year is defending their title, and to that end, they have been able to lean on former Patriots cornerback Randall “Blue” Gay. As a rookie in 2004, Gay was part of the team that won Super Bowl XXXIX. The following season, he saw firsthand how difficult it was to repeat, as New England stumbled in the postseason, losing in the divisional playoffs to Denver.
“You’re not sneaking up on anybody,” Gay said of the difference between being the hunter and the hunted. “I know what it’s going to take for us to go out there and try and win again. It’s not easy. I try to tell them that everybody is gunning for us so we have to go out there every day and work hard. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You can’t feel like, ‘we’re a good team that could relax a little bit.’ Everybody is coming for you.”
Gay said so far, his teammates appear to be listening to him.
“Oh, yeah. If there’s one thing about our team, everybody on our team wants it,” he added. “When we won a championship, the guys weren’t satisfied. We were like, ‘Man, this is what we want to do every year.’ So many more opportunities to do so many things this offseason … the guys want to do it again.”
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