Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is in his 15th season with the organization, his 13th in his current position. He recently talked with The New Orleans Advocate about the team’s performance at midseason and other issues.
The Advocate: Obviously, you did not expect to start 2-4. But it seems that the ship has been righted with the last two games and anything looks possible for the rest of the season. How much do you attribute that to Sean (Payton’s) steady hand?
Loomis: First of all, Sean has a proven track record. So it’s not like his message is unproven. Another part of it is staying the course and continuing to do the things that help us get better each week, which is focusing on improving and the results will come. Sean has a great way of being positive with our team and our coaches when things get difficult. That has been the same every year since he’s been here, and that doesn’t change.
What do you make of the NFC South not having a team above .500 at midseason?
I can’t explain it. I wouldn’t have guessed that the teams in our division would have those kinds of records at this point. But it’s the NFL. Every game is tough.
Does Mark Ingram’s success make his contact situation more complicated, given that you did not pick up his fifth-year option?
I don’t know. We expected him to have success, so this isn’t a surprise. We’ve seen Mark in the past and we like him. Clearly we’re happy he’s having success. How that all shakes out in the offseason, we’ll just have to wait until then.
You have some other major cap issues facing you in 2015. Are you already considering some of the decisions you will have to make concerning veteran players?
We have (a) plan, no different than the past few years.
Was signing Champ Bailey one of those calculated risks that just didn’t work out?
We’re always trying to bring in anybody that can help us. It’s unfortunate that he was injured for a good part of training camp because I don’t know if we were able to see everything we would have liked to have seen. You always have guys that don’t work out like we hope. I don’t have any regrets about it.
So far, apart from Brandin Cooks, you aren’t getting a lot of production out of your draft class. What do you attribute that to?
It’s the same thing every year. I think you (media) guys have this image that every team is going to get six guys who are contributing out of every draft at a high level. That doesn’t happen. What happens is that it takes guys years on the job before they get comfortable playing in the NFL and doing what is necessary to make contributions. This is no different. Jermon Bushrod didn’t impact our team immediately. Robert Meachem didn’t impact our team immediately. I can go on and on. If you take a close look at our drafts, there are a number of guys who took a few years before they impacted our team. Now there are exceptions. We love that when it happens. But it’s not necessarily that common.
What do you see as the most important factors in the team having a successful second half of the season?
It’s just continuing to look at this thing a week at a time, working to improve each week and making corrections on the things that didn’t go right the previous week. We’re not trying to look ahead or project ahead about what’s going to happen down the line. There’s no secret sauce here. You just continue to do the same things that Sean preaches and has preached for years: Let’s get better this week. Focus on each guy improving his performance, and the results will take care of themselves.
It seems like we’re hearing more these days about dysfunction in organizations, including your opponent on Sunday. If the Saints have any such problems, they rarely surface. What do you attribute that to?
Things can happen, even to the best of people. We all make mistakes. But we pay attention in terms of past behavior. We try to bring people to our team so that we don’t have issues, either off the field and or in the locker room. And yet when you bring a big group of people together, things can happen. We try to help anybody who has issues, and we have to be prepared to handle those things when they do happen.
You’re also the general manager of the Pelicans. How happy are you with their showing thus far?
We’re a young team that’s developing. At four games in, I don’t know if that’s a big enough sample to know where we’re going to be. We haven’t played together a lot, but I like the energy and I like the type of people we’ve got in that building. They’re quality people. I like the things the coaching staff has done to develop the players we have. It’s a work in progress. One of the things that you notice is that the teams that win championships are teams that have been together for a while. They’ve got older core players. It’s hard for young teams to compete with that — not necessarily in the regular seasons, but in the playoffs. The only way you gain experience is playing together, and that’s what we’ve got to keep doing and developing. I like the direction we’re going so far.
In Anthony Davis, you’ve got one of the league’s top players. What’s it like to have a player of that caliber on your team?
Obviously what Anthony has accomplished is a credit to him and the hard work he’s put in, and the desire he has to become a great player. But it’s also a credit to Monty (Williams) and our coaching staff, who have worked with him over the last two years. I don’t see them getting a lot of credit for that.