A couple of snippets from New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton's Friday news conference:
- Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichaelhas been calling the majority of the plays this season, and the results speak for themselves: the Saints lead the league in total offense (434.5 yards per game) and passing (326.4), and are second in scoring (30.2 points per game). Carmichael also assumed play-calling duties in 2011, when Payton suffered a leg injury on the sideline. The Saints went on to set league records in passing yards (5,347) and first downs (416) that since have been broken, as well as marks for net yards (7,474), completion percentage (71.3), third-down conversion rate (56.7 percent) and fewest fumbles (six) that still stand. "He's outstanding," Payton said. "The preparation, the organization that goes into what we're doing, the amount of time during the week and the constant thought as to trying to get our players in the best position. He communicates well on game days. He's quick. I'm biased because he's been with us for this long (11 seasons), but he's one of those under-the-radar guys and yet, extremely talented."
- The additions the Saints made this week – linebacker Sam Barrington, tight end John Phillipsand safety Shiloh Keo– are ones that Payton hopes will help the Saints improve on special teams in all areas. That includes helping spring some longer returns; Tommylee Lewisis averaging 14 yards per punt return (other than his 59-yard return, the other seven have been for a combined 53 yards), and Travaris Cadetleads the kickoff returners with 10 for 144 yards (14.4-yard average). "We've got to be better in that area. Hopefully, we've been able to add some guys that can help us in that area." Part of the issue is that several projected core special team players – including linebackers Craig Robertsonand Nate Stuparand tight end Josh Hill– have been pressed into full-time duty on offense and defense. "It's challenging when some of your core (special) teams players are now in starting roles," Payton said. "We've got to be better in those areas."