Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @wwltvsports
METAIRIE, La. ― Sean Payton was simply asked how they would handle the duties of receivers coach Curtis Johnson, who was named Tulane’s head football coach Monday afternoon.
Payton gave anything but a simple answer.
In fact, he spent nearly half of his 20-minute Monday morning news conference talking about and answering questions about Johnson.
Suffice it to say Payton thinks Tulane made a great hire.
“I don’t know how many good decisions Tulane football has made in the past 10 years,” Payton said. “This (former Tulane running back Matt) Forte was one of them. I’ll tell you this – this hiring of Curtis Johnson will be another one.”
Johnson will juggle duties until the Saints’ season ends, Payton said, balancing his job as receivers coach in the NFL with the task of putting together a staff and recruiting.
Payton credited Johnson, from St. Rose, La., with being one of the main reasons the Saints’ receiving corps has been so steady since 2006, when the current regime took over at Airline Drive.
That Johnson has never been a head coach or even a coordinator of any sort shouldn’t matter, Payton said.
“It’s silly,” Payton said. “I mean, it’s ignorant. … Vince Lombardi had his first head job somewhere and all of us have our first head job. This is my first job so I think it’s silly, and there’s a lot of coaches that have been prior head coaches that were hired based on their experience and (failed).”
What will aid Johnson with the Green Wave will be his regard for his players and vice versa, Payton said.
“He’s on them hard and yet, when practice is over and we’re finished meetings, two of them are in his room,” Payton said. “They truly feel like he cares about their progress and well-being and I think that’s been part of our success.”
Saints receiver Lance Moore agrees.
“He’s the ultimate motivator,” Moore said. “He’s the perfect coach for a player to want to play for. He knows the game. He has played the game himself. It may be different or unorthodox, but he definitely knows what he’s talking about.
“For him to be able to give pointers and tips, especially from his perspective having played the game, those guys will have to appreciate and respect where he’s coming from.”