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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Payton wins Coach of the Year honor

By Pat Yasinskas

New Orleans’ Sean Payton has been named NFL Coach of the Year by The Sporting News.

He beat out Indianapolis’ Jim Caldwell for the honor, and this one is well deserved. Payton took a team that underachieved last year and got it to achieve. He won his first 13 games and, as I’ve said many times before, I believe Payton grew tremendously as a head coach this year.

I’m not saying he was bad before because he wasn’t. He took the Saints to the playoffs in his first season and at least had them in contention the next two seasons. But what really set Payton apart this year was his willingness to be introspective, spot his weaknesses and learn from his mistakes. That's something a lot of NFL coaches are too stubborn to do.

After last season, he recognized that something dramatic had to be done with the defense. He went out and hired coordinator Gregg Williams and got good results. Payton also realized he needed more of a commitment to the running game. He used a combination of Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Mike Bell to give the Saints a legitimate running game that complemented Drew Brees and the passing game very nicely.