If Rob Ryan is going to be the new defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, it has not happened yet, at least, according to Sean Payton.
The Saints head coach was a guest on "Mike and Mike In The Morning" Wednesday morning and addressed that situation, as well as "Bountygate" and lingering bitterness moving forward regarding the suspensions.
Reports that the Saints are expected to hire former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to replace the fired Steve Spagnuolo may turn out to be accurate but the hiring is not a reality yet, according to Payton.
"We're going to bring in two to three candidates," Payton said. "I think we'll know in a week. Much has been reported about Rob Ryan and he is going to come in for an interview here at the end of this week. We will have at least between two and four candidates. One of the challenges is trying to get even position coaches from other teams to interview. You have to get permission. It's not a given that they (other teams) would grant that permission. There's a couple of those requests out there to other teams with regards to a position coach. I think within a week, we'll have a firm decision."
Payton did not specify who the other candidates are. Payton had and has a clear plan about continuing to build upon a winning organization moving forward.
"I think number one, the players in this building and the way we've built this organization, I came out and said this in '06 when we started," Payton said. "We were going to study closely what was winning in this league and I think, for us, character, integrity and intelligence were three things were the elements we felt that were going to be critical. New England has done that and been successful with young guys that were team players. This is a tough city and if you start making the wrong decisions on players coming into your program, this is a hard city to do the right thing all the time. It's been the key component of what we're about."
Payton says the Saints are still angry about the harsh penalties levied against them from the alleged "Bounty" program but that the team must harness their emotions and move forward. Howver, he was pleased with being allowed back a bit earlier than expected prior to the Super Bowl which gave him a chance to get to the Senior Bowl.
"I had a chance to get down to Mobile and quickly catch up to speed with the staff," Payton said. "We had to make some tough decisions in regards to our defense. We're going to be like so many teams and make some tough decisions cap related, the coaching staff and really internal, our own team."
With regard to how Payton views the legacy of the Bounty scandal, he believes the Saints have and will overcome it.
"I think ultimately, as time goes on, it's unprecedented, Mike. I do think because it's unprecedented in regard to the penalties, particularly the suspensions, I think that stands out," Payton said. "From a team perspective, I think it's something if we continue to build our program, I don't think it at all tarnishes the accomplishments of this team. Prior to this last season, we'd won 41 games in three years so we plan on getting back to work. There's certainly a lot we have to do to improve. I think when it's all said and done, when you you look at this stretch, however long this stretch goes, I think the accomplishments on the field is what will be most remembered."
Payton spoke about why he accepted his harsh suspension while his players fought and won their quest to eradicate their suspensions.
"We've got two unique, different situations in that the players and the players union, there's a process," Payton said. "It's a process that is collectively bargained for. With regard to coaches, that union doesn't exist and so that process does not. It's that simple. I followed what was going on from afar in regards to the (Paul) Tagliabue hearings. Myself and Mickey Loomis weren't a part of that. They interviewed the players, I believe they interviewed Joe Vitt. They're two different elements working in regard to discipline and in regard to protocol."
Payton said that it is important to temper his and his players tempers about the penalties handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell moving forward.
"Yeah, I think this is going to be a huge challenge for us and our team going forward," Payton said. "I spent two weeks, Mike, with those feelings and emotions and maybe a little bit more. But for me to be removed from it for eight months, I wasn't going to be able to spend eight months feeling that same anger, going crazy. I think it's going to be important for all of us to move forward. Our team, our players and our coaches, our challenge is 2013. Based on some of the tape I'm watching, we've got a lot of challenges to get better at. I think there are situations that come up that if you can't let it go, it can haunt you the following year and the following year and so that's something I'm going to deal with when the players get back and certainly, if I'm able to move on from it, then they're going to as well, something we put in the rear view mirror. Our focus has got to be on making the improvement and getting our team back to winning football and getting back to the playoffs. We continue to hold that bitterness, that anger, those emotions and I understand them. But I just feel like it become at some point counter-productive. I experience that in that eight month period. All of have to be able to turn the page on this or its going to be something that just hurts our team."
Payton said he gained a unique, different perspective watching the Saints from afar in 2012.
"Prior to stepping away, Parcells and I had this very conversation about looking at your team," Payton said. "You're able to watch a lot more. I got the coaches tapes on Tuesday so I was still able to stay in touch with the scheme, for instance, whether you seeing the trends of the pistol but I think more importantly than that, you gain an appreciation for how special the job is that you have."
While Payton missed the football, he really missed the camaraderie of of being with his players, coaches and other Saints organizational personnel the most.
I think the one thing that surprised me, the one thing I didn't expect is it wasn't football, Sundays, the competition that you missed as much as the relationships," Payton said. "The difficult thing is so many of our closest friends and peers that we were used to talking to on a regular basis--Mickey Loomis, Joe Vitt, the players and all of the sudden it's quiet for eight months. I think it was the most difficult thing."
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports the Saints were not allowed to speak with 49ers defensive backs coach Ed Donatell.
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