This weekend's match-up between the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots will feature two of the best NFL coaches of the modern era. Bill Belichick and Sean Payton will go toe-to-toe as both teams look to improve to 2-1.
Belichick and Payton have been the best-of-the-best for the better part of the last two decades in the NFL. Since 2000, they've won a combined 388 games and seven Super Bowls, while consistently leading the Patriots and the Saints to being among the top teams in the league.
Belichick and Payton have also formed a strong friendship off the field over the years. There's a strong admiration between the two head coaches and that showed itself once again on Wednesday ahead of this weekend's match-up.
In his press conference this morning, Belichick arrived to the podium and almost immediately complimented this week's opposition. He got right to the point in talking about Payton, calling the Saints "clearly one of the best-coached teams in the league",
Bill Belichick arrives, and right off the top, shows respect for Saints coach Sean Payton by calling New Orleans “clearly one of the best-coached teams in the league.” pic.twitter.com/VRBn2jw0gK
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 22, 2021
">per ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Payton wasn't the only member of the Saints organization that Belichick complimented on Wednesday. The Patriots head coach also spoke highly of quarterback Jameis Winston, who he'll have to prepare for this weekend.
“He’s a really good quarterback,” Belichick said, via WEEI. “He threw for 5,000 yards in Tampa, so it’s not like this guy hasn’t been productive. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s accurate. He’s got good touch on the ball. The offense that he ran in Tampa was a lot different than the offense he’s running in New Orleans. But fundamentally this is a big strong guy who can throw the ball accurately. He’s very good down the field. He’s a tough guy to tackle. He’s strong in the pocket. He can make every throw on the field. He’s pretty good.”
Belichick will have to drop the niceties by Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. That's when the Saints and Patriots will take the field for their early season match-up.