“I’m excited to be back.”
On what he needs to do now that he's back:
“Getting back into a routine is important. There’s a lot we have to do.”
On how he dealt with not being on the sideline during the season:
“It’s difficult. You try to draw an analogy to it. I found myself in a routine on game day. Of course I would get the coach’s copy (of the game tape) the middle of the week. I had that available. You’re watching from afar and there were certain things you would see. At times it becomes frustrating. With the situation as unique and unprecedented as it was. I was thankful to the staff.”
On watching the team struggle:
“You feel frustrated. The amount of time you spend together with the players and fellow coaches, you want to see them do well, you want to see them have success. I think the hardest part, was not football. The hardest part was – so many of these people we’re talking about Mickey Loomis, Mr. Benson, a number of the players – you’re used to talking to them on a regular basis… the more difficult part for me was not having the personal interaction, not necessarily football related, but as a friend."
On whether he would do anything differently with regards to the things that got him suspended:
"Oh surely. We’re in the business of teaching. We ask our players all the time to learn from our mistakes. There’s certain things when you have a chance to look back on it that I would want to differently and would want to handle differently."
On how much he missed the game:
“Quite a bit. You miss that competition. That element of what it feels like when you’re winning. When you have success, the butterflies on Sunday morning.”
On whether he thought punishment was fair:
“It was more or less something you can’t control. To dwell on it, with the time that I had, the first week or so it was difficult. I felt a lot of different emotions. At that point you have to move on, regardless of how you felt, because ‘there’s eight more months here,’ we’ll drive ourselves crazy if we continue to hold those thoughts… or whether or not you thought it was fair or not. Turning the page was important. It’s no different than what we teach our players when you feel like a call doesn’t go your way. It was a much bigger scheme of thing, (but) had to be the same approach by me.”
On the player appeals of their suspensions:
“Being away from it, I followed the process, but I wasn’t really privy to how those appeals went – the specifics – and still not.”
On whether, once the players' suspensions were vacated, whether he wondered about his suspension:
“I didn’t. Clearly there were two different things taking place. There’s the players and the players’ union and I’m the head coach. As the head coach, it all falls under your umbrella. That’s why, as much time and energy as we spent in the draft and in free agency, creating the right culture in the locker room and getting the right guys has been a huge part of our success and a big part of our mission statement and it really is something we did a good job with and the same challenge is with us in hiring assistant coaches. I was so far into a routine that I wasn’t going to emotionally going to get invested or uninvested to get upset.
Directly asked if Saints ran a bounty system:
“I appreciate the question, but both of us (commissioner) that the specifics were not going to be what we met on and certainly not what I’m going to visit on with everyone right now. It’s time for closure. It’s time for us as a team, as a league, to take this next step forward.”
On his contact extension being negated and re-done:
“There was no way I was going to another team. The issue was a minor technicality. What became challenging was being out of the building and then trying to work through the specifics to get the contract done. In the prior contracts… I had that two-three week period where Mickey and I would visit and then it would get to the agents and the attorneys and this time that didn’t exist. I understand and appreciate the speculation… the reason I feel I have the best job is the relationship I have with the general manager and Tom Benson is fantastic. That’s what makes the job special, because that, in our industry doesn’t exist with all the teams… There’s great respect and the friendship that exists with Mickey and I, I don’t take for granted at all. There was never any attempt with regards to leverage. I couldn’t be involved with specifics."
What's on his to-do list:
There’s a checklist of a lot of things going through my mind right now… that will be different than what might be the norm. But, the norm for us recently hasn’t been in the Senior Bowl. If you’re in the championship game or deep in the playoffs, you normally won’t come.
The decisions not so much on free agency, and the draft, but the decisions on your own team and the evaluations on your own team, I can be a part of.
Will his teams still be as physical as before:
“It was one of the discussions that the commissioner and I had, we’ve grown accustomed to what the expectations are as regards to hits above the head, hits on the quarterback… I know this, those are challenging calls for the officials. We teach getting low. I thinkt he players in our league are more educated and aware of the rule changes. You always want to be a physical team but you want to be teaching the right thing – you don’t want 15 yard penalties and you don’t want people getting hurt.
On his team's record in 2012: 7-9:
“When you play the way we played defensively, it’s going to be hard to win. When you struggle to run the ball the way we did in the first half of the season, it’s going to be hard to win. We struggled at times in special teams – against the Giants I have no idea how many yards they got in return game – these things keep you from winning games."
On expectations the team will return to winning now that he's back:
"Coach Parcells said to me, ‘you gotta make sure that this mindset that you’re back and all of a sudden you’re back to winning 11, 12, 13 games doesn’t exist because you could well win five games next year."
On the support he received from Saints fans:
I am grateful and certainly humbled by it. The region has been unbelievable. That’s helped me a lot. At times when I was back in New Orleans for functions, that was something that was overwhelming.
Why he didn't consider going to another team:
This was clearly the team I was returning to. When we started in 06 post Katrina, it felt like a business start up. There was just too much invested in the people in the building. When you start trying to identify what makes a job good, it’s when you’re working with the right people… with our fan base, I’m forever grateful. At times it was even embarrassing (the level of support) but I’m certainly grateful."
How this city should treat Commissioner Goodell and the NFL during the Super Bowl:
"One thing this city does better than any. They know how to entertain and feed you and there’s no better city in the world to host a super bowl and they’ll do a great job with that. The most important element is closure and moving forward… this next step is important. We have so many other challenges… move on."
"I think it should be the way our city hosted the previous nine (Super Bowls). I think it should be outstanding, gracious. I think that’s our responsibility. We’re still the top destination for this game. We’re not getting in Towne Cars and driving 45 minutes to some venue. You’re right down the street from the finest hotels, the finest restaurants… that would be my answer to anyone, especially the commissioner."
Has he, or does he want to talk to Gregg Williams:
"I’ve never talked with him (the commissioner) at all about Gregg, nor do I know about Gregg’s status. ‘Would you want to talk to him?’ No, I have no interest in talking to Gregg."
On the work ahead:
We’ve got a lot of tough meetings ahead. That’s what 7-9 is.
Has he talked to Drew Brees:
"I got a text. I knew he was heading to Hawaii. He was excited. I told him to stay healthy over there. He is going to be spending some time here before heading to California and I’ll sure he’ll come by."
Did Brees' contract issues or Payton being gone affect Brees' play:
He’s been in this system and takes such good care of his body. There are certain players you worry about when they’re not in the building, but he would not be one of those players. To look at how much of me not being there – that’s not going to be our reason for the good things or the bad things. There’s a lot of things that take place. If you’re not playing good defense and you’re not running the football, then I’m going to show you a quarterback who might struggle.