The seventh year (Sean missed the ’12 season) is when it sometimes happens that an NFL coach’s message gets stale, gets lost, goes unheeded by his players. It’s the time when owners become a little nervous about whether a coach who once had the “magic” with players has lost it - whether or not the coach has “lost his team.” Let’s not worry about that right now, at least when it comes to the coach of the New Orleans Saints.
Sean Payton had the Seattle Seahawks logo painted on the Saints’ indoor and outdoor practice pitches. What? Yes, that’s right, he had the enemy’s logo placed on the Saints practice fields, inside and outside their facilities, replacing the iconic fleur de lis with the flying buzzard’s image. Why? Because even though he’s a football coach by job title, what he is also a master of psychology!
It has everything to do with what psychologists term “locus of control.” What is locus of control? Well, in layman’s terms, it is power; power over things, people, thoughts, anything, that we believe we can control. If we believe we can control it, we generally aren’t intimidated by it, fooled by it, scared of it, or hesitant in any way. In fact, we’re confident we can not only control it, but it (whatever “it” is) poses little or no threat to us. By bringing the symbol of his enemy inside his own locus of control (the Saints facility and practice fields) Payton is saying, without saying anything at all, to his team: “See, here it is, here they are. Let’s run right over them, on top of them, through them, do whatever we choose. And, the Seahawks are powerless - powerless to resist!
Now, this has everything to do with preparation; preparing for the game, anticipating the game, practicing for the game, and nothing, nothing to do with the execution of the game itself. However, we've heard this before: "Perfect practice leads to perfect execution." Getting his players prepared to execute is his job - executing is theirs.
Moreover, it sends a message to the team that can’t be misinterpreted: "I’m going to do everything within my power to get us prepared to win. I expect you to do everything within your power as well."