Nick Underhill, The Advocate (http://theadvocate.com/sports/saints/12501537-148/the-saints-are-working-to)
There was a time when they embraced the ideals that will get you booted off these blocks. It didn’t go down smooth. It led to mediocrity and disappointment. From that bottom emerged a more humble and hungry group of players who are ready to compete for their accolades, not just accept the ones bestowed upon them by outside voices.
Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON–New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9), center, sets up a throwing game with New Orleans Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin (4), left, and quarterback Luke McCown (7) practices at the Saints Training Facility in Metairie, La. Thursday, May 28, 2015.
As a reminder of these ideals, two street signs were recently put up next to the outdoor practice field and indoor facility at the team’s Metairie headquarters. One doesn’t need to dig deep to understand the message. This year the Saints are about competing for jobs, respect, wins, and anything else that can be earned on a football field.
“You really want to set the tone as to what’s expected of you. How we are going to conduct ourselves, and what that will result in,” quarterback Drew Brees said.
And part of fixing those issues is getting better leadership and having players that are accountable for themselves. It also means making sure no one ever feels too comfortable.
Established veteran players say they feel like they’re currently fighting to keep their jobs. It’s something every player in every locker room in every city says every offseason, but members of the Saints claim they aren’t providing lip service. That message has been delivered by the coaching staff and they believe it to be true.
Perhaps it was proven during Thursday’s organized team activity when free-agent signee Anthony Spencer started over Junior Galette, who recorded 10 sacks last season, in the base defense. Who knows if Spencer will continue to hold the job, but he could and it sends a message that no one is safe. Everything has to be earned.
“Think about how you played (basketball on the playground) when it was 10-10 going to 11 and winner stays,” Payton said. “It was going to be your guy that scored because you knew if you lost you weren’t going to play the rest of the day. There were five other teams waiting.
“That would be an example of just the level of competition, creating that sense of urgency and that desire not to let your teammates down.”