January 4, 2009

Offseason Begins In New Orleans With Staff In Flux

Two coaches have already left as Carmichael expected to rise

Another quiet January in Metairie.

Coaching Staff In Flux

The Saints lost Doug Marrone to Syracuse before the season ended. Shortly after the season, Ed Orgeron ended weeks of speculation, and possible distraction, by choosing the University of Tennessee over LSU.

Orgeron, who spent one year as the Saints' defensive line coach, will join Tennessee as a recruiting director and defensive coordinator.

The defensive line was wracked by injury and off-field threats this season. Both starting defensive ends, Charles Grant and Will Smith, spent the entire season under the looming threat of suspension and the proceedings involved in appealing, then legally challenging, the suspensions. Grant is also dealing with a grant jury indictment for manslaughter, and was lost to a triceps injury in November.

Top overall pick Sedrick Ellis started at defensive tackle but injured his knee in practice and missed a month. Hollis Thomas missed most of the season with injury. Brian Young was lost to injured reserve in mid-November. The Saints' second draft pick used at defensive tackle, DeMario Pressley, was lost before training camp.

Of the Saints' 28 sacks, 22 came from the defensive line, led by Bobby McCray with 6 sacks. Despite some fantastic performances, especially against Adrian Peterson on Monday Night, the Saints were worse at run defense this year than last. In 2007, the Saints allowed 1646 yards and 4.0 yards per carry on average. In 2008, those numbers worsened to 1885 yards on 4.2 yards/carry.

Almost twenty percent of the rushing yards the Saints' allowed this year were to 120 minutes of playing against Carolina runningbacks DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

The Saints did collect about two more carries on average per game this year than last, in part due to a small improvement in pass defense.

Despite numerous injuries to the Saints secondary, the Saints surrendered 23.5 yards less per game than last year in the air.

Carmichael Jr. To OC?

It'd be a surprise if quarterbacks coach Pete Carmichael, Jr., already an integral part of the offense, isn't promoted to the only offensive coordinator.

The Saints have operated with two offensive coordinators, Carmichael Jr. for the passing game and Marrone for the running game. Payton himself calls the plays and is a major force in game planning. Most NFL teams employ one offensive coordinator, but Payton is so involved in play calling and planning that the Saints' organization chart is already uncommon.

But last year the Saints nearly lost Carmichael to Miami when Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano offered him their offensive coordinator job. After winning Carmichael Jr.'s heart in 2008 and talking him away from a promotion in Miami, it'd be a mystery if the 37-year old rising coaching talent wasn't promoted.

More Saints-related Coaching News

Its a swarm of ex-Saints coaches in St. Louis nowadays. Former long-time Saints assistant under Haslett, Winston Moss, is a candidate for the job that Haslett just vacated on an interim basis. Moss, who probably should have been the Saints' defensive coordinator in the Rick Venturi days, has been an assistant head coach and linebackers coach in Green Bay. Venturi himself may be on the outs in St. Louis, whether or not interim head coach Jim Haslett survives the Rams' external head coaching search... Former Saints assistant coach John Morton has been promoted to offensive coordinator at USC, replacing Steve Sarkisian. Morton was with the Saints for one year in 2006 and left to become receivers coach at Southern Cal... Former Saints offensive coordinator Carl Smith has been hired by USC as their quarterbacks coach... Former two-time Saints assistant John Pease has been hired at the University of Utah as their new defensive line coach. Pease coached 11 years for the Saints spread over two different stints that covered three decades, most recently in 2005...

Notes: Its a growing trend for players around the NFL to stay in town instead of training on their own, especially after trying seasons. Saints TE Jeremy Shockey will reportedly follow the trend. It was a hot issue while Shockey was in New York that the tight end continued to train in Miami, where he played collegiately, during the offseason. Reggie Bush did the same for the Saints last offseason, and it translated into eight touchdowns in seven games before Bush's knee injury... Victorious head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Sugar Bowl champion Utah Utes played for the USFL's New Orleans Breakers, and his father played for the Saints in 1967-68.

NOPF News Archive