Perhaps the sign in the Saints indoor facility should have read "Do My Job" last season when Sean Payton was suspended for the year. Payton's the highest-paid coach in American sports, according to Forbes. He'll make about $8 million a year after signing a new fi ve-year contract over the offseason. After a season without him coaching the Black and Gold, Saints fans might agree he's worth every last penny of it. His overall record of 62-34 speaks for itself. The New Orleans franchise needs him. There's no denying that.
"It's good to be back and working, and more than anything else, being around the players and the coaches, guys that you work with on a daily basis," Payton told the media a few days into OTAs. "Just from an interaction standpoint, it's been great." Without his leadership, the team started the season 0-4 and fi nished with a less than impressive 7-9 mark. But Payton is back for 2013. Some might say he has a little more fi re under his visor than he used to. "I think the number-one thing for me is just going to be what I'm used to as regards to coaching—whether that's an extra Red Bull or not, I don't know," he joked. "It's good to be back around these guys."
Even with Payton gone, the offense he oversees wasn't the problem. Defensively, the Saints were putrid. As soon as Payton was reinstated, he fi red defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The pair never even got a chance to work together. Payton announced the teams' defensive switch to a 3-4 front. Then he found the guy he wanted to help improve one of the worst defenses in the history of the NFL in Rob Ryan. Ryan was fi red from the Cowboys following the 2012 campaign. "I think we all have a chip on our shoulder from last season. You know I don't like getting fi red, but I knew I had a job in fi ve minutes, so it was no big deal," Ryan joked. "I know I got my feelings hurt and so did our players so we're looking to do something about it."
In his two years in Dallas, Ryan's defensive units were nothing spectacular. They fi nished 16 th and 23 rd in points allowed. Payton, however, hopes he's the right fi t to implement the new scheme and fi nd the right fi t at each position. "When you make a move like this from a position standpoint, there are a few guys that are playing different spot. I think as you work through these practices and get into pads in training camp, you begin to sort some things out," Payton said. "I like his passion. I like how the players respond, and I think he is a perfect fi t for what we are looking for."
Rob, not to be confused with his lookalike brother Rex, won two Super Bowls as an assistant with the Patriots. One of them was in the same stadium he'll call home on eight Sundays during the regular season. During the offseason, he explained a feeling he hasn't experienced since working under New England coach Bill Belichick: "I just feel like (there is) a sense of urgency. I know everyone is on the same path. The big sign that used to be up there saying 'Do Your Job,' I have heard those words before, and I plan on doing it." The good news is no one will have to try to do Sean Payton's job in 2013.