Bradley Handwerger / Eyewitness Sports
MOBILE, Ala. -- Mickey Loomis sat in the stands in Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium the past three days, watching the best college seniors run through drills put together coaching staffs from Cincinnati and Buffalo.
A year earlier, Loomis was preparing for what would eventually become New Orleans' first Super Bowl victory.
From Miami to Mobile in one year.
You would think the Saints' general manager would be crestfallen. You would also be wrong.
'I think this - we enjoy being here,' Loomis said. 'We enjoy seeing new players. This is kind of the first event of the next season.'
Then, with a smile and a laugh, he added, 'But we'd rather be somewhere else.'
The Saints' Super Bowl follow-up didn't end the way anyone wanted or could have imagined, a stunning 41-36 loss at Seattle in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs.
It's easy to imagine, however, that Loomis' scouting department is more than a little saddened the Saints aren't still alive in the postseason.
'One of the things about the proximity of Mobile to New Orleans is they said they felt like rock stars here,' Loomis said. 'All the Who Dats were out, excited and cheering. Everywhere they'd go, they couldn't buy a meal or a beverage in town because somebody was buying it for them because there are so many fans here. I know it's a little different experience for them this year.'
But just like a year ago when Loomis made sure to still take an overall look at his team, he'll do the same thing this offseason.
'A year ago after the Super Bowl, I said one of the things you have to guard against is looking at your team through rose-colored glasses,' Loomis recalled. 'You still have to evaluate your club. If you have weaknesses, you've got to fill them. You can't just say we won the Super Bowl, therefore, we don't want to change anything.
'On the other side, when you lose a game, you have to resist that tendency to say we have 100 holes. You don't. Hey, look, 11-5 is hard to do in the NFL. Let's face it, the history of the Saints, 11-5, they'd be throwing parades for us for 11-5 seasons.'
One advantage the general manager will have this time, though, will be a level playing field. Because of rules associated with the final season of the collective bargaining agreement, the Saints and the three other championship game participants couldn't make any big splashes in free agency.
This time, because of the possibility of a lockout lasting into the offseason, everyone has to rely on the same rules.
Loomis is OK with that.
'A year ago we were under some different rules than most of the other teams,' he said. 'That put us at a disadvantage. Here we're in the same position as all the rest of the teams and a level playing field with whatever the rules are and we'll deal with it accordingly.'
Not that that will change how he goes about his offseason, from scouting to drafting to evaluating his team.
'For us, we've got to prepare business as usual,' Loomis said. 'We've had a formula and process that has gotten us some success, so we need to stay with that.'