The New Orleans Saints may have found their solution at head coach with former defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, giving them a clear direction to maintain their defensive prowess. But large questions loom on the offensive side of the ball.
Of course, everyone will be discussing the Saints decision at quarterback this offseason but before that, an offensive coordinator hire will take center stage.
Unlike defensive coordinator, the Saints don’t have many internal candidates. Pete Carmichael seemed like the obvious choice in terms of maintaining cohesion but while he will remain with the offensive staff, it won’t be at coordinator. The young and highly-regarded Ronald Curry is more than just an option, but might be a year away from stepping into an OC role.
This means the Saints have had to go outside of the current coaching staff to find the next coordinator, who will likely have full control over the offense.
#Saints offensive coordinator interviews:— John Sigler (@john_siglerr) February 11, 2022
Cowboys WR coach Robert Prince (via @TomPelissero)
Colts RB coach Scottie Montgomery (via @nick_underhill)
Dennis Allen putting an early emphasis on candidates without prior experience in NO. Encouraging to see him looking for fresh POV
In doing so, New Orleans has interviewed a pair of candidates that aren’t just from outside the organization, but outside of the usual offensive construct seen in New Orleans for the last 16 or so seasons.
Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery is known as a run-pass option (RPO) specialist.
The Saints ran 17 RPO’s between all four quarterbacks last season according to Pro Football Reference. The Indianapolis Colts on the other hand ran 84 with Carson Wentz. And that was without Montgomery calling the shots. If you look around the NFL at other RPO-heavy teams, the play count can get pretty high.
- Philadelphia Eagles - 161
- Baltimore Ravens - 158
- Arizona Cardinals - 140
- Buffalo Bills - 126
- Kansas City Chiefs - 96
This would be a far cry from the Saints’ previous Air Coryell/West Coast days while still incorporating a heavy run and short passing game.
The Saints next candidate Robert Prince, Cowboys wide receivers coach, comes from the same program as highly-touted offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. In fact, Prince is more well known as the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans wide receivers coach because he was only hired by the Cowboys two days before the Saints interviewed him for the OC position.
The big shift here, perhaps a positive one, would be the usage of wide receivers. Kellen Moore and Robert Prince orchestrated a Boise State offense together that was predicated on the run game - something Dennis Allen said he wanted to do - while allowing receivers to win on simple routes and combinations.
West coast systems can get a bit complex, just look at Kyle Shanahan’s route tree. To simplify things for talented receivers could bear a lot of fruit. Especially with Michael Thomas expected to return in 2022. The emphasis on drafting a wide receiver early could be more present as well with a former wide receivers coach at offensive coordinator.
Prince has worked with high-caliber wideouts like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson, Kenny Golladay, Anquan Bolden, Marvin Jones and others.
It’s unclear what direction the Saints will go at OC for the moment. There’s a chance that Kansas City Chiefs’ Eric Bieniemy hits the market looking for another coordinator position. After spending eight hours with the New Orleans Saints for his head coaching interview, there could be easy synergy there.
But what is clear, is that the Saints are interested in changing the approach on offense and are hearing out coaches that can bring something new to the offense.
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