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10 questions with New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael

Carmichael enters 15th season with Saints

Take a look at offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael in action as we highlight the New Orleans Saints coaching staff on the sidelines.

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New Orleans Saints

In terms of uninterrupted service on the New Orleans Saints' coaching staff, only Coach Sean Payton and Head Strength and Conditioning coach Dan Dalrymple can match the 14 years that offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael has logged. And as he enters his 15th season with the franchise, Carmichael – who is beginning his 12th year as offensive coordinator – has helped orchestrate one of the most productive units in NFL history; first in the NFL in total yards six times, and in the top eight every year since he joined the franchise in 2006. Too, Carmichael has the longest relationship with quarterback Drew Brees, dating to Carmichael's four seasons with the Chargers (2002-05) before he joined the Saints. He has been a valuable contributor to New Orleans' success, and the Saints hope to keep it rolling into 2020.

Q: When you're in this process and not face-to-face with players, how beneficial is it that you pretty much have a veteran offense?

Carmichael: I think to start out, there's probably no substitute for being face-to-face in contact with them. But I think that this virtual offseason for us has been very successful. And obviously having a veteran team, that makes the process a lot smoother for us. But as far as the virtual meetings go, I think that they've been real detailed for us. I've had an opportunity to jump on and listen to all the position coaches as they're going through. The thing that I find on those meetings is you're not necessarily having to hustle to get through. Wherever you finish for the day, you get through your slotted time and it's like, hey, we'll just pick up there tomorrow. So it's not like you're trying to get through the last three or four plays in two minutes so you can hustle out to the field. Again, no substitute for being face-to-face with them and in the same room and having a chance to go out and work some of those plays against different defenses, but again, it's been a real success for us I believe.

Q: For you, has it been more tightening up things that you wanted to emphasize or has it been a little bit more install?

Carmichael: I think it's been a combination of both. I think that at the end of every season, you obviously go through your cut-ups as a staff, and we had the opportunity to do that before we were out of the offices. And then being able to go through that with your players, going through with your staff to tighten up the details. But with the players, a lot of that has been installed, going through the paper and then also having an opportunity, all the video is accessible to us. So again, what usually goes on in the classroom other than being face-to-face, we're able to handle all that with the virtual meetings.

Q: Does it set you back any with Emmanuel (Sanders)? You get a new piece, you want to integrate that new piece, you know some of the things that new piece can do, but you're not having them on the field to integrate.

Carmichael: Obviously, he has experience and he brings some leadership to that group as well. The nice thing about him is we feel like he's a good learner. We kind of have a vision for what we're going to do with him. We'll be able to play him inside and outside, but again, there's no substitute for getting the on-field work, him hearing the different terminology, probably. We're installing plays, some that he's probably familiar with and he's done before, but it's just a little bit of a different terminology. And then also being able to work with Drew (Brees) on the field.

Q: Regarding Emmanuel specifically, I can't remember if it was R.C. (receivers coach Ronald Curry) or C.J. (Senior offensive assistant Curtis Johnson) who said it, but the stuff he did in San Francisco wasn't necessarily a lot of stuff that he'll be doing here. Do you guys have to look back at stuff he did in Denver to project how he would fit in your offense?

Carmichael: I think this, I think that (Director of Pro Scouting) Terry Fontenot and his group do such a great job. And one thing that Sean makes us do is when we're looking at free agents, we've at least as an offense and a defense kind of given our vision of what we're looking for in players, as far as what some of the characteristics that we'd look for. And so I think when he gets here, we kind of have a vision for what he'll be. Again, like I said, he'll be able to play inside and outside. Obviously, there are some differences between maybe what he's been doing as of late to going back to a few years ago. But again, one thing that Sean is really big on and you guys all know this already is that we're making sure that we're putting those guys in the position where they can be successful and do the things that they can be successful at."

Q: When you look at (quarterback) Jameis (Winston), do you see a lot of stuff that is fixable in a short period of time that you can, maybe just taking a step back, what help him with?

Carmichael: Well, I think he's a talented football player and he's done a lot of great things in this league already and we're excited to have him. Just in these meetings that we've been having, the one thing that stands out to me right away is that he's sharp, he's smart, he has asked the right questions. And so he has that experience and he's got the ability, you see him throw the ball down field, he's got excellent arm strength. So there's a lot to be excited about and we're looking forward to working with him.

Q: You mentioned the virtual meetings, obviously some potential changes on the offensive line with (Cesar) Ruiz coming in and maybe (Erik) McCoy moving to another position. How has that process been going with what (Ruiz has) been asking and how his development has gone since you all selected him?

Carmichael: Well, again, there's no substitute for the field work that we're going to get. And again, one thing that Sean's already made clear to us as a coaching staff is that when we get back early to training camp, that we're going to have to ease some of these guys in. And if there are issues, he's not going to be looking at the players, he's going to be looking at the coaches. So just being able to have the opportunity to sit on (offensive line coach) Dan Roushar and (assistant line coach) Brendan Nugent's meetings and to see, obviously, how smart (Cesar Ruiz) is. And we saw that in his college video, we really felt great about the player. We were excited to get him. And so again, we look forward to working with him and (are) just excited when they finally get here.

Q: (Tight ends coach) Dan Campbell talked about how he thinks what we saw from Jared Cook in the second half of the last season is the beginning of his potential in this offense. Were there also things that you guys learned about how to use his skill-set that you're excited to sort of advance on going forward?

Carmichael: We were real excited when we signed him in free agency (in 2019) and we saw him do a lot of good things on film, we were excited with what we saw. It took us a little while to get going with him during the season. Part of that was us just giving him those opportunities, and so the more opportunities that he got he seemed to all of a sudden take off. Again, it's about putting him in the right spot and making sure we're doing the right things with him. Part of that's on us. It is nice now that him and Drew have a year together and going into the system now with him in training camp and getting going early.

Q: With Taysom (Hill) taking on a little bit more of a role as a quarterback in terms of reps and those kinds of things, how much does that affect the offense? And how much have you seen him improve as a quarterback?

Carmichael: I think there were vast improvements just from the start of the season last year to what he was able to do. But I think the focus during training camp for us with Taysom, as it was last year, is he's competing at the quarterback spot. And then once the season starts, he was able to do so many things for us and do them so well, and we are trying to put our best guys on the field and he is usually one of those best guys for certain situations. I think as we get into this training camp, the nice thing is, hey, you're focusing on the quarterback spot, you're getting the reps there and that other stuff will come, and we know what he's able to do with those spots.

Q: How much growth have you seen in him from when he got here, when you claimed him from Green Bay, maybe to where he is now? Because obviously there's a lot of hype and hoopla, but we don't see what you all see every day at practice, just where he was from when you got him to where he is now in his development in your opinion.

Carmichael: I think there's been a huge strides in his development and we have all the confidence in him being back there and leading the team from back there. When the season starts, he kind of gets thrown into so many different roles, but it'll be nice again, having another training camp for him. But you just saw the development of even – we have some lengthy play calls and as he's been in the system, his ability to just spit those out with ease and get in and out of the huddle, you've just seen all those progressions. He's throwing from the pocket. Obviously, he's always had the ability to kind of move and make some plays on the run. But again, there's been development and we've seen it.

Q: Much is made of the relationship between Sean Payton and Drew Brees, but you even go back further with Drew, to San Diego. How has the relationship evolved? Are you surprised it's lasted this long, that you've been able to coach one player for almost two decades now? Do you ever kind of look from the big picture perspective of how rare that is in professional sports?

Carmichael: It is clearly rare, and just the fact that I have walked into the same building as him now for year 19, for me, that's special because I am around a great person, great leader, a guy you love coming to work with every day. I am really lucky, I'm blessed. Not many people probably get to say that in this business. The other thing that I look at it is the opportunity for my kids as well, to be in one school system throughout their whole time, and starting in kindergarten and make it all the way through to college. There's a lot of things that go with that, but again, I'm fortunate to be around Drew and he plays at such a high level and maybe that's helped me out.

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