The speculation about Sean Payton’s future continues to swirl.

Earlier this week, Payton answered a speculative report from by saying that there is absolutely no way he is leaving New Orleans after this season, and he reiterated those sentiments when addressing a report from a Sports Illustrated writer who reported on Twitter that the Saints coach has interest in the University of Michigan vacancy.

“I’ve got no interest in any other job but this one,” Payton said. “I know you guys will preface all of that by, ‘Well, he’s got to say that.’ It seems like every three years I answer that question, and every three years, sure enough, he’s the head coach here. I did answer it earlier. This is the job I’m most interested in and only interested in.”

The Sports Illustrated reporter, Ben Estes, tweeted last week that he heard from a current coach who said Payton would have interest in the Michigan job if approached by the university.

“One bit of Michigan search info I can share–there’s one well-known current head coach who believes Michigan is going to hire Sean Payton,” Estes tweeted.

The narrative was then further pushed along when a site that covers Michigan speculated Payton is one of four finalists for the opening.

Not good enough

Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on Saturday said he’s tried yelling at, cursing at and even crying in front of his players this year.

But nothing’s worked — the 5-8 Saints were allowing the second-most yards per game in the NFL as of this weekend (398.7). That amount was 9.4 more yards per game than permitted by the defense Ryan had achieved his worst ranking with in his 11-year career as coordinator: the Browns in 2009.

On Saturday, six days after the Saints lost by 31 points at home to the Carolina Panthers and surrendered almost 500 yards, Ryan reiterated a point he’s made throughout the season: this defense will improve at its job only as much as he does at his.

“If you’re the coordinator and it’s not going well, then you start with you, and that’s the way it is,” said Ryan, whose defense in his first year with the Saints in 2013 held opponents to the fourth-fewest yards in the league. “That’s my fault, because right now this defense hasn’t played up to par, and it’s killing us. And that’s just the way it is.”

Always aware of the numbers that illustrate both his successes and failures as a coach, Ryan bluntly stated his performance in 2014 was unprecedentedly futile for him personally.

“Have I had a couple bad seasons? Yeah,” Ryan said. “Have I had one this bad? No.”

Jimmy’s goal

Jimmy Graham’s goals for this week’s game against the Chicago Bears are not very complex.

He wants the New Orleans Saints to win. He also wants to block better. But the first thing he listed when asked his objectives for this week will probably hit home for anyone who tuned in to last week’s 41-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

“I’d like to catch the ball,” he said.

That should be at the top of his list of objectives. After not catching a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago, Graham dropped at least three passes against the Panthers. That’s not going to cut it in a game where short passes will likely be at a premium since it is expected to rain Monday night in Chicago.

Injury report

After missing two practices this week with a knee injury, Junior Galette — the Saints’ leader in sacks — is questionable for Monday night’s game at Chicago. Saints left tackle Terron Armstead (neck) is also questionable against the Bears (5-8).

Galette sat out practice on Thursday and Friday before returning to team drills in a limited capacity on Saturday. Armstead missed Thursday but was limited Friday and Saturday.

Despite being listed on the injury report, linebacker David Hawthorne (hip), defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (ankle) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (illness) are probable. Hawthorne and Hicks were limited Thursday and Friday but fully practiced Saturday. Lewis was limited Thursday but fully practiced Friday.

For the Bears, safety Chris Conte (back) is doubtful. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (knee), defensive end Cornelius Washington (ankle), kicker Robbie Gould (right quad) and tackle/guard Michael Ola (back) are questionable.


Former Saints kicker Garrett Hartley signed with the Browns on Saturday after Cleveland released Billy Cundiff. Hartley worked out with the Saints on Tuesday but was not offered a contract. ... The Bears placed linebacker Darryl Sharpton on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and promoted quarterback David Fales to the active roster. Sharpton had 27 tackles in five games for the Bears. Fales, a sixth-round pick out of San Jose State, reportedly drew interest from New England before being promoted.