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Mickles: Payton gets head start on evaluations

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Article Link By SHELDON MICKLES Advocate sportswriter For the first time since becoming the New Orleans Saints head coach in 2006, Sean Payton will have time to actually take a breath or two before charting his team’s course for the ...

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Old 01-13-2008, 09:48 PM   #1
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Mickles: Payton gets head start on evaluations

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By SHELDON MICKLES
Advocate sportswriter

For the first time since becoming the New Orleans Saints head coach in 2006, Sean Payton will have time to actually take a breath or two before charting his team’s course for the 2008 season.

The winter of 2006 was a blur to Payton after he was chosen to succeed Jim Haslett. The last offseason, of course, was shortened by the Saints’ march to the NFC Championship Game and Payton’s obligation to coach in the Pro Bowl after losing to the Chicago Bears.

But after completing the 2007 season last Sunday, Payton has the time to give his team his undivided attention the next three or four weeks with an eye on making it back to the playoffs after an unrewarding campaign.

After a week off to recharge, Payton and his staff go back to work today when they’ll start to evaluate their own players and operations in trying to find the answers to a promising season gone wrong.

“The first step in this process is evaluating our own players and our own scheme,” Payton said last week. “We’ll spend time looking ‘A to Z’ at our roster — defensively, offensively and the kicking game — and we will set up our areas of needs where we feel like we have to improve.

“There are a number of things we have to look to do to improve our team,” he said. “When you come away from the season it’s easy to point to certain statistics in a good or bad way, but we need to improve our defense. That’s something we’ll look at hard this offseason in regards to how we can help over there.”

Payton vows to leave no stone unturned, whether it’s in evaluating himself and his staff or every player on the active roster and injured reserve list.

The main things he’ll look at are protecting the ball on offense after the Saints were minus-7 in turnover margin, stopping big plays on defense after giving up 54 passes of 20 yards or longer and doing a better job in the return game on special teams.

“Everyone is looking for something specific because you want to have a culprit, you want to have a villain,” Payton said. “Those are some of the areas we’ll begin addressing and working on.”

What’s most important, he said, is taking their time and making sure they make the right decisions because it will affect the franchise not just this season but for the next few years.

“The key is making the right decisions and not making rush-to-judgment decisions,” Payton said. “The key is being patient enough to look at what we’re doing and look at who we’re doing it with and try to, in the proper frame of mind, make sound decisions that are in the best interest of the Saints for future years.

“That’s why the next month is important to what we do next year because I’ve seen a lot of bad decisions made in (January) on different teams I have been on as an assistant. It’s important who is evaluating and who’s looking at it and who’s looking at the scheme.”

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