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New Orleans Saints have undergone intensive offensive installation this offseason

Installation has been challenging for offensive and defensive players


The New Orleans Saints' new offense is off the showroom floor and while it remains to be seen if it's road ready, the preparation to make it so has been exhaustive, entertaining (based on the visuals from OTAs and minicamp) and greeted with enthusiasm by players who have seen how productive the system has been for other NFL teams.

Offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak was hired from San Francisco and tasked with the install, which has generated positive reviews across the board.

"I think it's gone pretty well," Coach Dennis Allen said. "We've installed a lot offensively. A lot of moving parts, a lot of motions, so it's been challenging both from an offensive standpoint of our guys learning a new offense, but it's also been challenging from a defensive standpoint seeing a lot of different looks and a lot of different plays.

"A guy like (All-Pro linebacker) Demario Davis can't come out here and just play the same plays he's been playing for the last six or seven years, or whatever the case may be. So, it's causing everybody to have to really work. It's causing us as a defensive staff to have to go in and talk about, 'OK, how do we handle some of these things that we're seeing?' I think it's been great work for all of us."

Kubiak was the 49ers' offensive passing game specialist last season, when the team finished second in total offense (398.4 yards per game), fourth in net passing (257.9), first in red zone touchdown percentage (67.2 percent) and fourth in third-down conversion percentage (47.5).

"Our guys did a great job of taking in a lot of information and going and putting it on the grass," Kubiak said. "Coach Allen gave us a lot of meeting time to get it installed. I'm pleased with where we're at. We're never going to be where we want to be and if we have that mindset, we'll be all right.

"I think I've seen improvement. In the competitive periods (of practice), the (starters) go out there and they move the ball down the field – that's a good start. But, again, there is no pass rush really, we're all in underwear out there. We get to training camp, we put pads on, guys that maybe you didn't notice here in the last couple of weeks, they're going to start showing up. And the other way around, too.

"That's what we tell our guys is, it's real football come the fall. So they've got to put themselves in position to be successful and be in shape over this break."

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Quarterback Derek Carr said it's the kind of offense that he admired from afar, and he has dived into its implementation.

"Klint threw everything at us," Carr said. "Klint and his staff, they made it really difficult on our guys.

"For some guys, it's their first time they've had to be in the NFL and learn a new system. I've been at where they start easy into it, I've been at where they throw everything at you and you see who can kind of catch up and who can make it, and that kind of weeds itself out.

"Here, they threw everything at us and our guys worked so hard mentally. I just saw players grabbing each other all the time, having extra meeting time. Doing the stuff it takes to win. And I saw our guys doing that. And when you see that happening, and then you see the results happening in practice against an amazing defense.

"That, to me, just builds confidence for our guys that we're on the right track. I think we're in a good place, but you never want to be comfortable. Hopefully we just keep the gas pedal down, because I think we're in a good place but I think that we can keep getting better."

Kubiak said Carr impressed during the offseason installation.

"That was a big reason to come here, to be able to coach him and coach a guy who has played a lot of football and has been to Pro Bowls," Kubiak said. "He's obviously a very intelligent player. No surprise that he's been able to handle it. He has exceeded expectations but he also has a growth mindset and he's not satisfied. So we have a lot of work to do come the fall."

Carr said he has been cognizant of conditioning for an offense that requires so much movement from the quarterback.

"Every play, all 11 (players) matter," Carr said. "So I have to be able to make a good fake, it has to look the same when I go to hand it to the running back, same thing when I run a play action or a bootleg. It's got to all look the same. I think that's the thing about this offense that has just given teams problems for so many years.

"The run, the play action, the stems – everything looks the same for the first two seconds. And so, it helps create better pockets, it helps the offensive line. Their urgency and their intensity in which they coach it, they demand from us perfection and we do our best to make it look that way run or pass, and I think that's been a positive for us."

No less important than the system overhaul has been the overhaul on the offensive line, which likely will feature new starters at left tackle, left guard and right tackle. Former first-round pick Trevor Penning, who was slotted at left tackle in his first two seasons, moved to right tackle for a new start after injuries and ineffectiveness hampered his NFL start.

"Trevor Penning has done everything we've asked him since we got here," Kubiak said. "Really tough mentality. I like the person, I like the way he works, I like how important the game is to him.

"(But) he's no different than anybody else – we're going to coach him hard expect a lot out of him. We'll see what happens when we put the pads on."

More intense test driving begins at training camp in July.

New Orleans Saints players participate in Day 3 of 2024 Saints Minicamp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Thursday, June 13, 2024.

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