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payton, head of the class

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Updated: Oct. 12, 2006, 9:45 AM ET Payton, Linehan at the head of the classBy Len Pasquarelli ESPN.com Archive There isn't much, not even the 4-1 record and first-place status in the NFC South, that has surprised New Orleans Saints ...

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Old 10-12-2006, 05:00 PM   #1
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payton, head of the class

Updated: Oct. 12, 2006, 9:45 AM ET
Payton, Linehan at the head of the classBy Len Pasquarelli

There isn't much, not even the 4-1 record and first-place status in the NFC South, that has surprised New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis about the performance of first-year coach Sean Payton at this relatively early juncture of the season.

The manner in which Payton has so quickly captured the confidence of a team that all but came apart at the seams in the wake of its Hurricane Katrina-related displacement last season? Not a surprise. That Payton's staffing selections, particularly those of first-time coordinators Doug Marrone (offense) and Gary Gibbs (defense), have proven to be brilliant? Loomis isn't shocked. That the Saints already have one more win in 2006 than they did all of last season? Loomis says, with a straight face, that he felt in camp that the Saints would be "a little bit undersold" by the pundits.

So there's been nothing surprising about Payton so far?

"Well, I've probably been a little surprised by the fire that he has [demonstrated] on the sideline during games," Loomis said, laughing. "I knew he was a passionate guy. But when you're interviewing a guy for a [head coaching] job, you can't predict what his demeanor might be like during games. He's really been a fiery guy. He's really into the game. Now, that can be a bad thing for some teams, I guess. But for us, given where we're coming from, it's been a big plus."

Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
Sean Payton's and the Saints' success is a surprise to everyone but those in the New Orleans organization. Indeed, there have been almost nothing but pluses for the Saints and their rookie coach so far in 2006.

Take a quick glance at Payton, and the person he most resembles is actor Frankie Muniz from the onetime Fox sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle." There's been nothing middle ground, though, about Payton and what he has accomplished with a New Orleans franchise coming off a dismal 2005 season on and off the field. Of the seven rookie head coaches in the league this season, Payton is one of two -- Scott Linehan of the St. Louis Rams is the other -- who currently has his team in first place.

The aggregate record of the first-year head coaches is 15-19, and Payton and Linehan have accounted for more than half those victories. Props to Linehan, too, who didn't exactly inherit a day at the beach in taking over an often dysfunctional Rams franchise. But even what has transpired in St. Louis, where the Rams are actually winning games on defense, for gosh sakes, pales in relative comparison to what Payton has wrought with the Saints.

New Orleans is a team that was chided, including by yours truly, in training camp. There were monumental concerns about the offensive line and about the ability of the defensive front seven to stop the run. But the offense ranks No. 7 overall in the league, and while New Orleans is just 23rd versus the run, the overall defensive rating of No. 13 is more than respectable. In a city that welcomes any shred of optimism, the Saints have provided a beacon of hope.

The schedule, Loomis noted, will become demonstrably more difficult, beginning Sunday when the Saints host the Philadelphia Eagles. But with the club performing with so much confidence in itself and seemingly in its youthful coach -- and with some magic, like Reggie Bush's electrifying 65-yard punt return Sunday -- all things suddenly seem possible for the Saints.

"I think our players bought into [Payton] in camp," Loomis said. "When he said something, he meant it, and they found that out pretty quickly. He hasn't wavered on anything. That's been a key to what we've been able to do to this point. From my standpoint, where my first priority was getting a head coach whose philosophy was the same as mine, it's been great."

And so the progress report for Payton at this point of the season, by just about any measure, has been excellent.

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Old 10-12-2006, 05:09 PM   #2
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RE: payton, head of the class

if i may add to this..........if anyone can post film of payton right after the carolina game, it will say what i'm trying to.........he was not a happy camper.......you could just see him steaming underneath while trying to keep his composure...........we have a get in your face coach........i read where we may be headed for a 5 game losing streak and if it happens i would not want to be around payton..........while i hate the bend don't break attitude, if it's what puts the w's where we need em, please continue payton............smitty
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Old 10-12-2006, 06:28 PM   #3
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RE: payton, head of the class

When I first heard the news of Payton coming in I was excited, for some reason I knew this was the coach who we have been looking for, it only gets better for him and the Saints IMO..
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Old 10-12-2006, 06:32 PM   #4
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RE: payton, head of the class

Vote for Payton as the NFL's top coach at NFL.com!!!!!

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