It’s a new NFL season and player rosters are not the only place to find major offseason overhauls. Last year, the Saints made big changes to their scouting and player evaluation department. Those changes lead to a promising Saints rookie class that featured several instantly contributing role players. This year, the Saints have turned their attention to the coaching staff. While some staff members have returned, several new faces will be greeting Saints players when they return to work for OTAs. In this first installment, I am excited to introduce the 2016 New Orleans Saints offensive coaching staff.
Pete Carmichael, Jr. - Offensive Coordinator
Chris Palmer - 2000 Cleveland Browns
Marty Shottenheimer - 2001 Washington Redskins
Marty Shottenheimer - 2002-2005 San Diego Chargers
Sean Payton - 2006-2016 New Orleans Saints
Pete Carmichael has been a solid, steady, and instrumental presence in the New Orleans Saints passing attack for the past nine years. After beginning as quarterbacks coach, Carmichael was elevated to Offensive Coordinator and, each year since, has helped New Orleans field a top rated offense. Under Carmichael, the Saints have posted the number one ranked offense an impressive six times over the last nine years, while never falling out of the top six in any of those years. Drew Brees has enjoyed unprecedented success in the passing game during this time, breaking many passing records along the way. In 2011, Carmichael took over play-calling duties for an injured Sean Payton and the Saints didn’t miss a beat completing one of the most prolific offensive seasons in the history of the NFL. Again in 2012, Carmichael called plays as Sean Payton served his year long suspension for the BountyGate scandal, and again, the Saints finished the season with impressive offensive production ranked atop the league. Last year, during the preseason, Carmichael called plays, but as the season began, Payton resumed that duty. We will have to wait to see if Payton defers play-calling duties to Carmichael this year, but in either case, the Saints offensive production seems to remain prolific.
Dan Campbell - Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends
Tony Sparano - 2010-2011 Miami Dolphins
Joe Philbin - 2012-2015 Miami Dolphins
Even after playing ten years in the NFL primarily as a blocking tight end, Dan Campbell looks as if he can still step straight onto the field for more snaps. In an apparent effort to inject former player/coach experience into the locker room, the Saints have added the up and coming former interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins. The 2015 Dolphins season began with an abysmal start, but following Joe Philbin’s firing, Campbell was able to lead the team to several impressive wins. Specifically, Campbell’s attention to blocking and the run game led to a noticeable turnaround in offensive production. The Miami players loved Campbell’s intensity in practice and his ability to connect with them as a former player himself did not go un-noticed. Campbell comes to New Orleans with the title of Assistant Head Coach, so expect him to make his presence felt beyond the tight end room, where he will also serve as tight ends coach. This hiring may be the most interesting and exciting of all the new additions to this year’s coaching staff.
Ronald Curry - Offensive Assistant
Jim Harbaugh - 2014 San Francisco 49ers
Jim Tomsula - 2015 San Francisco 49ers
Somewhat of a coaching newbie, Ronald Curry joins the Saints staff as an Offensive Assistant after serving the same role in San Francisco for Jim Harbaugh and later Jim Tomsula. Interestingly, Curry was first drafted to the NFL as a highly touted quarterback known for overshadowing Michael Vick in Virginia high school football lore. Almost immediately, however, Curry was switched to wide receiver which remained his position for the rest of his seven year NFL career. Having played both quarterback and wide receiver, Curry may bring a unique perspective to this offense. Curry also studied under Hall of Famers Fred Biletnikoff and James Lofton, so even though his coaching resume is short, it is rich with experience.
Joe Lombardi - Quarterbacks
Jim Mora - 2006 Atlanta Falcons
Sean Payton - 2007-2013 New Orleans Saints
Jim Caldwell - 2014-2015 Detroit Lions
This year, Joe Lombardi returns home to New Orleans after trying his hand as Offensive Coordinator for two seasons in Detroit. The magic Lombardi was able to concoct with Drew Brees eluded him while he attempted to recreate it with Matt Stafford. Despite these recent struggles, a Lombardi/Brees reunion is still a welcome sight. The two share a bond that permeates the quarterbacks room. Three of Brees’ four 5,000 yard passing seasons and 5 of his eight Pro Bowl selections have occurred under Lombardi. Even though Brees displayed one of his more statistically superior seasons in 2015, the passer can certainly benefit from the return of one of his favorite mentors.
John Morton - Wide Receivers
Bill Calahan - 2002 Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden - 2003-2004 Oakland Raiders
Marty Shottenheimer - 2005 San Diego Chargers
Sean Payton - 2006 New Orleans Saints
Pete Carrol - 2007-2009 USC
Lane Kiffin - 2010-2011 USC
Jim Harbaugh - 2011-2014 San Francisco 49ers
One of the more seasoned additions to our coaching staff, John Morton brings a wealth of experience with him for his second stint in New Orleans. Several wide receivers including Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, and Michael Crabtree have experienced quality seasons under Morton’s guidance. In 2006, Morton personally helped develop Saints seventh round pick Marques Colston, who has become arguably the greatest Saints receiver of all time. If Colston is left off the roster this year, the Saints will have an extremely young and inexperienced wide receiver corps. Proper route running, blocking, and technique will be paramount as Morton will be charged with developing the likes of Brandin Cooks, Brandon Coleman, and Willie Snead. Morton doesn’t fear a lack of leadership in the locker room, however, because he feels leadership starts with coaching. As a former wide receiver himself, Morton can show leadership through his ability to see what the receivers see each play. I expect solid growth and more consistency from the wide receiving group this season no matter who makes the final roster.
Brendan Nugent - Offensive Assistant
Marc Trestmen - 2013-2014 Chicago Bears
Sean Payton - 2015-present New Orleans Saints
Beginning in offensive quality control for the Chicago Bears, Brendan Nugent begins his second season with the New Orleans Saints coaching staff and first season as an offensive assistant. By far the least experienced staffer, it is unclear what role he will play in weekly game-planning and preparation. He has coached running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends in the past so I expect him to be more involved with the skill positions.
Dan Roushar - Offensive Line
Sean Payton - 2013-present New Orleans Saints
After coaching the tight ends in 2015, Roushar slides over to coaching the offensive line in 2016. Dan Campbell’s arrival is likely the reason for this move, but it’s obvious the Saints still value Roushar as they retained his services for another season. He has coached for 31 years, mostly in the college ranks, but his deep knowledge and experience are evident. The Saints offensive line has struggled mightily as Brees has been pressured and hit more recently than in years past. Despite a lack of true evidence that Brees has lost his long ball, the signal-caller can certainly benefit from more time in the pocket. As Brees was able to post his lowest interception rate of his career in 2015, look for improved protection that allows the quarterback to make even better decisions with the football in 2016.
Joel Thomas - Running Backs
Sean Payton - 2016 New Orleans Saints
This is Joel Thomas’ first NFL coaching job after 15 years in the college ranks. Despite his lack of NFL coaching experience, Thomas has enjoyed lots of success at the college level most notably coaching two separate running backs to 1,000 yard rushing seasons at Arkansas. In fact, every running back Thomas has coached in college since 2009 has posted 1,000 plus season rushing totals. This bodes well for Mark Ingram, CJ Spiller, and perhaps Tim Hightower or Khiry Robinson, if he is able to return from the devastating knee injury he sustained in 2015. The Saints running game was fairly stagnant last season, and with athletic lineman Terron Armstead returning healthy and Andrus Peat growing into his role, the Saints have a chance at re-establishing a strong running attack.
In my next installment, I will introduce you to the 2016 New Orleans Saints Defensive Coaching Staff followed by the Special Teams and Training Staff. I look forward to delving deeper into all things Saints. I encourage you to send me your comments and requests for articles on the topics you find most interesting. As a new Canal Street Chronicles writer, I am pleased to introduce myself, and I look forward to becoming a witty addition to the Saints media family.