MIAMI -- There has been a lot of talk this week about where Sean Payton’s style of coaching comes from.
He spent time with Bill Parcells, Jon Gruden and Jim Fassel. But Payton really isn’t a clone of any one of those coaches. The best way to describe him might be that he’s a blend of all those guys and even a few others he never worked for.
“I know that Jon (Gruden) worked under Mike Holmgren, and my first years in Philadelphia were really coming up in that system and cutting my teeth on the terminology," Payton said. “The systems in our league and how you call plays vary. There’s probably three or four different strains, if you will. And yet they end up being more just like computer programs. You can get the same play design, the same type of play. One system might call it a word and the other system might use a number. In the end, that just becomes merely the language.
"The key to a good offense is deeper than that. That being said, Jon was with Holmgren in Green Bay, and Mike was with Bill Walsh. When a terminology carries through coaches, there are always tweaks and changes to it. I would say there’s a portion of it there, and some of it from Dallas.”
Payton’s offensive roots might stem from guys like Gruden, Fassel, Holmgren and Walsh. But don’t underestimate the influence of Bill Parcells, who Payton worked for in Dallas. Parcells had a reputation for being a bit of a control freak and often came across as surly.
Although Payton isn’t as extreme, he does have some of those qualities and some recent columns have described him as arrogant. The reports detailed how he and the Saints repeatedly tried to ban a reporter from a New Orleans Web site, even though the NFL repeatedly advised them against such a move.
That may be one side of Payton, but he also has been described as a players’ coach at times this week. He doesn’t like that at all.
“The whole players’ coach thing … I cringe a little bit," Payton said. “I’m not going to describe myself -- it would probably be better for a player to (do so). I think it’s important that you’re demanding. I think it’s important that you’re fair. I think you don’t want to settle for anything less than exactly what you’re looking for. It’s not our job to be the players’ friend. It’s our job to teach and motivate, give them a plan to be successful and make tough decisions.
"I think what’s important is that at some point, we are also selling a game plan offensively and defensively and kicking game, and selling a system and creating that confidence within the team. I think those are all things that are important. So I don’t know how they’d describe me.”
Well, it wasn’t hard to find out how players describe Payton. As soon as his press conference ended Thursday, we put the question to veteran linebacker Scott Fujita.
“Sean’s more balanced than any coach I’ve ever been with and I’ve been with some great coaches, like Parcells," Fujita said. “Sean balances things really well and has such a good sense of knowing his team and what it needs. He’s a young coach and he’s in touch. He’s got young kids and he can understand what we’re going through at home with young kids. He’s perfectly in tune with our needs and our obstacles."
Balance might be the best word to describe Payton’s style. He’s not a true players’ coach, but he’s not a Parcells replica either. He’s somewhere in between and that might represent the best of all worlds.