As summer seems to get hotter and hotter and we get down to only baseball on TV, there’s only one thing to do to keep our interest – answer questions and give our thoughts about the Saints heading into training camp.
We’ll run out one question a day in a hope that we satiate your thirst until actual toe meets leather. The questions are in no particular order of importance…except for No. 1.
10. How will Pete Carmichael Jr. do as the main play-caller?
When the suspensions of the Saints upper level management came down this spring, one of the first things that popped into everyone’s minds was about what the team would do without Sean Payton calling the offense.
But the Saints, as far as offense goes, are as well-positioned as any team to deal with the loss of their head coach.
Make no mistake, missing Payton is very big…and it’s a topic we’ll discuss later in this series … but his play-calling replacement can handle the job.
Pete Carmichael Jr. has done this before. For 10 games in 2011, Carmichael was the main person calling the Saints offense. All he did was help New Orleans break offensive record after offensive record.
The 416 first downs; the 7,474 total yards; the 472 completions; and the 5,347 passing yards were just a few of the offensive records the Saints broke in 2011
In 10 games with Carmichael calling the offense, the Saints average 476.1 yards and 26.9 first downs per game. The NFL average for yards per game was 346.8 and 19.5 first down per game.
Include the playoffs and the averages are more staggering – 27.4 first downs and 488.3 yards per game under Carmichael.
The Saints scored 40 or more points six times and went over 500 yards total offense four times.
Going from Payton to Carmichael isn’t a stretch; it happens often in coaching when one head coach leaves for one reason or another and his top assistant takes over.
This should be no different.
But there’s another reason Carmichael can be successful – Drew Brees.
The record-setting quarterback has had a relationship with Carmichael since the two were together in San Diego from 2002-05. While Brees was quarterback of the Chargers, Carmichael was working as an offensive assistant before being promoted to assistant wide receivers coach.
Once in New Orleans, which coincided with the signing of Brees, Carmichael was quarterbacks coach and had a focus in the passing game before being boosted to offensive coordinator prior to the 2008 season.
Carmichael has been in every game-planning meeting with Payton and Brees for the past several years and knows exactly what makes the offense work. He and Brees know each other’s tendencies well.
In other words, we wouldn’t expect much of a drop off, at least from an offensive standpoint.
--Bradley Handwerger, WWLTV.com Sports Reporter