Opening Statement: “I would just like to start off by saying (that) it’s an honor to me that Mr. (Tom) Benson and Mickey Loomis feel good about me filling in for Sean (Payton) and Joe (Vitt) at this time. (With) A six-game run here in the beginning, it is important to start fast. We will do the same things that Sean Payton has done over the years. We will follow the same program. The coaches on this staff, with Pete Carmichael, with (Steve) Spagnuolo, with Greg McMahon, those three guys know how to run a program themselves. For me, it’s an opportunity but it is also a collaborative situation where we will all work together and solve this thing.”
Did you volunteer? Did they come to you?
“They came to me.”
Is this something you wanted to do?
“Yes. I’ve had aspirations to be a head football coach in this league. Last year, I was set to interview with the St. Louis Rams. That didn’t work out. Their coach (Jeff Fisher) took that job the day I was going to interview. I also flew up to the Indianapolis Colts and interviewed with them for the head coaching job. It has been on the radar. It didn’t work out last year, but, I think, in the near future, hopefully I can do a good job with this.”
Is this an audition to be a head coach?
“I don’t see it as an audition. I see it as a holdover. I am going to hold this thing over until Joe Vitt gets back. I am going to hold the fort. I am going to follow the program that has been set. It is important that Drew Brees feels this is Sean Payton’s program. This is the way we do things. This is the way we did it in 2009 to win the Super Bowl. This is the way we did it in 2011 to win 14 football games and we were short at the end. This is the formula that we have followed that we’ve had success with. That is my job, to make sure we are on pace with that.”
How will your duties change as you start to work with Joe Vitt currently fulfilling Sean Payton’s duties?
“What we are going to do in this game, like Joe said, is we are going to work together on the sideline and just work out the mechanics of being the offensive line coach and the acting head coach at the time. That is the whole function. How many red flags do we need? Do we need someone else to have a red flag other than myself to be able to throw it on the sideline if I am back talking to the offensive line or the offense. That is not unusual. I spent years with Jon Gruden, who coached the offense. He called the plays, he coached the offense, he put the plays in during the week. He did it the whole time. I have seen how this thing works and I think that it should be flawless.”
When was the last time you were in a head coaching spot?
“I have never been in a head coaching spot.”
Is that intriguing to you?
“Sure. A head coach has a process that he should go through, I believe. A line coach has a process that he should go through. When you wake up in the morning, you decide what that process is, you follow it, and at the end of the day you evaluate whether it was a good process or not. Luckily enough, I have been through and been around a lot of good head coaches. It is easier to see how this thing is supposed to run.”
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a head coach with deep roots in the offensive line?
“I really believe that it’s the person and it’s not about what position he coaches. There has never been a special teams coordinator (in a long time) be a head coach before John Harbaugh at the Baltimore Ravens. It was always a fact that he went and coached defensive backs for one year and then became a head coach. He is a special teams coach. It makes no difference, I believe, what position you have coached. If you are a leader and you can run your position and your squad, I think you are capable of being a head football coach.”
Was it made clear to you that even if you go 6-0, Joe will return as acting head coach?
“Yes, the plan is that I’ll work these six games, and then Joe Vitt will come back and finish out the year. I’m a fill-in for the fill-in, and I’m going to do the best job I can do. You’ve got to understand this, though. You were at our practices. You guys have seen it. Tell me the difference. Tell me the difference between last year’s training camp and this year’s training camp. Tell me the difference that you see in the way we run things, the way Drew Brees drops back to pass, the plays that we run, the hustle, the tempo on the field. There isn’t a difference because we’re following what Sean Payton has taught us. We’re keeping pace with the way that Sean would do it. What would we do today last year? We did the same thing this year. We are always in constant improvement. At the same time, it is his program. It is the way he has done it. We’ve had a lot of success doing it his way. We think it is important that we continue to do that. We have great coaches. Like Joe Vitt said, it could have been Pete Carmichael sitting here right now. It could have (been Steve) Spagnuolo sitting here. It could have been a lot of guys, Greg McMahon. It happened that he (Mickey Loomis) felt like this is the best situation for the team right now for these six weeks that I would do it and we’re moving on. We are all going to work together. What other program do you know that you have seen, or in your business, where they took the CEO away and said ‘you can’t come to work.’ They took your boss away and he can’t come to work. Now, you move up and change. I bet you we would see a difference. I’ll tell you today that you don’t see a difference in the New Orleans Saints. You don’t. It is the same as it has been.”
Is there a difference between the system in place and the system you would have in place in a different situation?
“Everybody has their own personality so, obviously, it will be a little bit different. The schedules, the times, the way we approach a game and the approach in the game will be the same. We are going to work together. There will be no differences.”
Did you figure they would come to you and let the coordinators focus on their respective sides of the ball?