FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ― For much of the 2000s, the New England Patriots held a certain aura, a mystique of invincibility.
Now the Saints are looking to gain that same feeling.
While New Orleans won the most recent Super Bowl, the Saints still consider the Patriots the franchise to emulate.
“We’re trying to get to where they’re at as an organization and as a team,” linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “For us to come up here, it’s great to have the good work and competition.”
New Orleans has practiced with New England three times over two days earlier this week.
Call it a learning situation.
When Sean Payton took over in 2006 as head coach of New Orleans, he used New England as the template for success. At that point, the Patriots had won Super Bowls in 2001, 2003 and 2004. They would reach the big game in 2007 after going 16-0 in the regular season.
In other words, not a bad team to model yourself after.
“We know what these guys stand for and their organization,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “What they’ve been able to accomplish has been unbelievable, especially in the era of free agency where you get so much turnover on a team. And yet, they’ve been able to adopt that philosophy that nobody is bigger than the team and it’s all about one day at a time, one game at a time.
“There are a lot of things that we can learn from them.”
And yet, because of what the Saints accomplished last season, some Pats are talking about trying to measure up to New Orleans.
Though they’re taking the compliment, the Saints aren’t necessarily buying into that line of thinking.
“We have a long way to go, but we’re just taking it one game at a time,” Saints running back Reggie Bush said.
That next game is tonight, when the Saints play at New England at 6:30 p.m.