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Sean Payton says Bill Belichick is ‘someone certainly I look up to’

10.09.13 at 9:07 pm ET

From the moment he took over the Saints as head coach in 2006, Sean Payton has always paid close attention to Bill Belichick. So when he was reminded Wednesday that Belichick paid him a big compliment for the way he calls plays for the Saints, Payton returned the favor.

‘€œWe are in different conferences and yet he has been someone that I first got to know at the Pro Bowl in 2006 when we both coached teams there,” Payton said. “He has been someone certainly that I look up to. We’€™ve shared the opportunity to work for a Hall of Fame head coach and so there are probably some things that are similar and yet a lot of things that would be different.

“When you are young in this league, Bill talked about this all the time, when he had guys like (Tom) Landry, (Joe) Gibbs and (Chuck) Noll, older coaches that not necessarily took him under their wing, but that he could visit with periodically. We’€™ve had a chance to scrimmage in practice with New England and that opportunity for me to just spend some time with Bill has been always helpful and a positive experience.’€

Belichick was effusive in his praise for Payton and the way he calls plays before their Monday night meeting in 2009. The Saints came out and blew away the Patriots, 38-17, in front of a national TV audience.

Of course, in 2009, Payton joined Belichick in the select group of Super Bowl-winning coaches. Payton was asked if he considers his Saints in the same class at the Patriots in terms of giving their fans a consistent winner. Under Payton, the Saints are 67-34. That does not include the 7-9 season of 2012, when he was suspended for the full season for his involvement in the “Bounty Gate” scandal. Payton’s winning percentage, including playoffs, is .660. That ranks him fifth among all coaches, with Belichick topping the list at .756 with a 167-54 mark.

‘€œWe just haven’€™t had the same amount of years,” Payton said. “These guys are now through 10 years and so that would be a goal to win the championships and win as many championship games as they had. You aspire to do that. You aspire to put yourselves in a position to play in the important games, but there are a lot of postseason wins and regular season wins we are behind.’€

So how did Payton become so successful calling offensive plays?

‘€œI think it just varies with your players,” he said. “You try to just put them in the best position you can. I have been on teams where the personnel has been different and obviously then what you are trying to do is different. I think each week we try to look at each game and figure out the best way we feel it is possible to do that, it kind of stems from that.’€

Something else Payton learned from Belichick is to always prepare as if a player like Rob Gronkowski will play, even though he’s missed the first five games of the season. On Wednesday, Payton showed he’s learned well from Belichick.

‘€œI think you go through the process as if he is playing,” Payton said of Gronkowski. “You discuss jersey numbers and when you are running practice plays you try to prepare for what you have seen when he played and not be surprised if he is up. And also understand that if he is not each week we are faced with that now and the other team is as well. Sometimes if it is an interior lineman, certain positions aren’€™t as maybe as noticeable where you are trying to match up certain personnel, but with a player like him it is pretty significant.’€

Here is the rest of Sean Payton’s press conference with reporters in New Orleans:

What have you seen from Aqib Talib?

‘€œThey (New England’€™s secondary) are doing a very good job. They get to the ball. They play a lot of man to man coverage. They are big inside. Aqib is someone who has excellent ball skills. He is long, so he gets his hands on a lot of passes. You really have to be on target with where you are throwing his way. He also has very good recovery speed and so he can make up a step. He is playing at an elite level right now. That is just looking at the film every game and watching him very consistently. He’€™s also drawn some tough matchups and he is very competitive.’€

Can you talk about Drew Brees and Tom Brady?

‘€œI think, obviously both are accomplished. The success that Tom has had there is well documented, noted and through his time and Bill’€™s (Belichick) time there has been a lot of different pieces, no different than you would say to some degree, Drew has seen different players come and go. They are different in a lot of ways and yet they are competitive and guys that know how to win. They aren’€™t playing against each other really, they are playing and working with their own teams. Look, it’€™s a good team we are playing on the road after another road game we just played. They are coming off a tough loss and we are going to have to play one of our best football games. I think our players see that and they understand that.’€

Is it rare to see teams 5-0 and 4-1 be at the bottom of red zone offense?

‘€œI think maybe to some degree, yet both teams play good defense, (have solid) time of possession, third down (conversion rate), those are some of the other statistics that we factor in. I would say certainly, both teams want to be better in that area offensively and that is why we are out here practicing.’€

Do you get a sense that New England’€™s head coach and quarterback relationship is like you and Drew Brees’€™?

‘€œI would really hesitate to make the comparison other than (that) for us we are much earlier in the process. I’€™ve said this before, when we started in 2006, we tried to look closely at the franchises that were having a lot of success and study closely what they were doing. New England was one of the main ones that we looked at. Of course we were fortunate to sign Drew (Brees) and then build on that and get the right players in place, but these guys have been to five Super Bowls and won three. That is pretty amazing.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, new orleans saints, nfl



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