'I'm home. This is where we're from' John DeShazier
Kris Richard said he wanted to join the New Orleans Saints' coaching staff.
And though he was born and raised in California, his name was a dead giveaway.
"Obviously, my last name is Richard (pronounced Ruh-SHARD). Right?" he said. "So, this state - my culture, my heritage, my family, my bloodlines - stream through this state. My wife's intermediate family, born and raised here in this city.
"And aside from the fact that this has been an awesome organization throughout the years - very successful, competitive, tough, hard-nosed teams, gotta deal with them - all of that came into play.
"Thinking about family, thinking about the opportunity to be here, to be with them, and the opportunity for the village to raise our children, and essentially that's what it was about. It was about a big family move. And Coach (Sean) Payton, and (General Manager) Mickey (Loomis), all these guys here, it's been a phenomenal organization and it was a no-brainer."
The Saints' new secondary coach - who replaces Aaron Glenn, now the defensive coordinator for Detroit - brought along with him an impressive resume.
Richard was cornerbacks coach (2011), defensive backs coach (2012-14) and defensive coordinator (2015-17) in Seattle when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013 and advanced to the Super Bowl the next year. He had a hand in forming Seattle's Legion of Boom secondary and as defensive coordinator, Seattle ranked first in points allowed in 2015, third in '16 and 13th in '17.
From there, he was defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator in Dallas in 2018-19, then sat out last year after Dallas fired head coach Jason Garrett. Richard said the choice to not coach in 2020 was a family decision.
"We made this decision," he said. "It wasn't like we were getting paid, or anything like that. The contract was up. So we didn't make this decision resting upon, 'Oh, well, I've still got carryover.' No, it wasn't that at all. It was just a decision that was right for us, we made it, and then there comes a point in time to where you don't like it.
"There's no regrets, because we made the decision, but it didn't feel good, it didn't feel right. It's kind of one of those deals to where, you know what you're supposed to be doing. We know what we're supposed to be doing and we weren't fulfilling that obligation. And that's what kind of puts a strain on the decision.
"But as far as staying in tune with the game, that was still exciting. Game day is always exciting, just being able to watch the different schemes and the matchups, being able to view and see offenses and consistency between them and how they're still being called across the league, defense the same way. Picking up tendencies. That didn't change; that didn't change at all, almost to the point to where it was exhausting. Because there's too much football to watch.
"You get the Sunday Ticket and by the time the first series of games are over, you're exhausted flipping back and forth between all the games. That was pretty cool within itself. I still have my IPad, I still had game footage through the IPad and still being able to watch it critically. But the interpersonal, the relationships, the day to day, you definitely miss it."
The opportunity to return came at the right time for Richard, with the Saints having a vacancy to fill.
"I feel like I've known Kris for awhile," Payton said. "Our teams, back when we played Seattle so many times a few years back, he was coaching there and had a lot of success with (Coach) Pete (Carroll) and his staff.
"I'd spoken to him several times when he was in Dallas, just professionally over different things, and kind of always had stayed in touch. And with the loss of Aaron, we had that opportunity to bring Kris in along with a few other candidates. He really did a good job. I'm excited that he's joined our staff. There's certainly an experience level, and also the attention to detail. I think he's a really good teacher."
Foremost, Richard has had a hand in helping create an elite secondary. In Seattle, Richard coached All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and All-Pro safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
"Eliminating explosive plays, outhitting people, and taking the ball away," Richard said. "You do those things each and every single game, you've got a chance to be successful. Each and every single game. And ultimately, that's how we'll define success. Those are our axioms. We get these things done consistently, each and every single game, then we're going to have a really good chance to be successful."
The bonus is, he gets the opportunity to do it in New Orleans.
"I'm home," Richard said. "This is where we're from. This is an opportunity for me to provide a little bit something different for my family, and what better place than this?"