Saints Joint Practice With Patriots Good For Several Reasons


When New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced this past week that they had decided to hold joint practices with the New England Patriots at training camp I was pretty pleased.

“Wait…holding practices with a bunch of “cheaters” is a good idea?, you might ask…well yes but let me explain.

First of all the idea that the Patriots won the Super Bowl due to deflated footballs is a bit of nonsense.

Now if they broke the rules or deliberately tried to impede an investigation, then that’s a different ballpark…come to think of it, it’s a different sport altogether.

Let’s just face it, the Patriots are a talented team guided by a very smart head coach in Bill Belichick with that team being owned by an equally smart man in Robert Kraft.

Apr 23, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (L) and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (R) walk to the stakeout position to speak with the media after a ceremony honoring the 2014 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots on the South Lawn at the White House. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If you think that they secretly came up with the “end all be all” idea that defaulting footballs was the reason they were missing out on a championship then you just simply have a loathing for the Patriots to which there is no cure.

All that aside, the joint practices scheduled for the two teams at The Greenbriar in West Virginia prior to their August 22nd preseason matchup in New Orleans is good for several reasons.

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First, I’ve mentioned that the Patriots are a smart organization and hey…..they are.

It’s no secret that the Saints have tried to model themselves after New England in many ways especially with their philosophy.

It’s the one trait the Saints have taken to heart especially this year which is a winning philosophy, mental philosophy and more importantly attention to detail philosophy.

These are all things that the Patriots have hammered on for years and seen success that escaped other teams in the NFL.

I’ve joked before that they must have made deals with the devil to come out with winning seasons yet seem to always have a boatload of picks in the draft.

Once again…they’re smart.

The Patriots seem to take chances on players that gives them minimal risk but maximum benefit, will trade players for draft picks when they feel that player has almost fizzled out, and also will let players go when it’s clearly time to move on.

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork warms up before Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints on the other hand have given away picks to trade up in the draft to teams like the Patriots and seem to hold on to players way too long that obviously need to be let go.

We saw a glimpse of the Saints beginning to have a Patriots-like mindset this offseason with letting scouts, coaches, and players go that had overstayed their welcome.

The team also with the help of assistant general manager Jeff Ireland retooled how they looked at the draft and ended up with nine picks in the 2015 draft which caused people like me to pinch myself in disbelief.

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Yes having the Patriots around in training camp is good because you know Payton, Ireland, and general manager Mickey Loomis will be bouncing ideas off of them and vice versa.

A second reason this is a good move by both teams is something Payton has said will be a focus during camp which is competition and smart football.

No longer will your name or status get you to the final 53-man roster but your level of play will.

While I firmly believe that cornerback Brandon Browner will be a starter, I also firmly believe that if there is another player that can beat him out then that’s who will be playing.

As I said earlier, the Patriots are talented and that will only look to give the Saints a quality opponent to compete against which goes along with the old saying, “Iron sharpens iron.”

The Saints had originally been scheduled to practice against the Houston Texans but they ended up declining them for the Patriots.

While the Texans aren’t a bad team, I was mainly worried because when the Saints have practiced against them in the past, numerous fights have broken out and they practice full pedal down.

With injuries being a concern carrying over from last year, New Orleans can’t afford to lose anybody to another team’s player trying to “prove” themselves or a mindless scrum out of frustration.

Oct 19, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New Orleans Saints nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley (77) is slow to get up after suffering an apparent injury during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Understandably injuries happen but once again it’s about being smart and testosterone for testosterone’s sake isn’t smart.

One of the final reasons of the benefits for the two teams practicing will be simply the distraction that both will provide each other.

The Saints have faced serious scrutiny following their 7-9 finish with the big headline being on if it was time for the team to move on from quarterback Drew Brees whom the national media was saying was in “decline”.

This was only ramped up by the drafting of third round pick Garrett Grayson this year although Payton and others in the organization have firmly said Brees is their starter.

Combine that with the much publicized questioning of offseason moves made by the team i.e. trading tight end Jimmy Graham and it has been an irritating itch they can’t seem to scratch.

While the Patriots have their own issues they are currently dealing with involving Deflategate and the upcoming appeal for the suspension of quarterback Tom Brady, they will help circle the wagons so to speak with the Saints.

Payton and Belichick have said on numerous occasions about “just do your job” and there is another one that Belichick is widely known for and has been posted all about New England’s facilities…”Ignore the noise.”

The chance for both teams to have an unwritten understanding that this will be a time to shut out the noise of the media and other distractions will be a welcome change.

For the Saints and Patriots it all boils down to really one main reason for the two to practice together…just an old-fashioned mutual respect for each other………….

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