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Transcript: Pete Carmichael conference call - Tuesday, June 16

New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator spoke with local media

New Orleans Saints
Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

When you're in this process and not face to face with players and not hands on how beneficial is that for you that you pretty much have a veteran on offense that yeah you'd like to have him there, but there are some things that maybe you can do virtually, like you guys have been doing and you don't necessarily have to have them there?
"Yeah, 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, like you said, 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, ah, 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."

Do you feel like some of these virtual offseason elements will carry over to the future?
"Yeah, I think there'd probably be discussions in the future as a staff going forward with Sean (Payton) and just kind of some of the benefits that we do see with it. For us as coaches, the one thing that's been nice for us is now that we have these WebEx, Zoom type meetings, it also gives us opportunities to maybe meet with some coaches around in college football as well. Maybe you don't have to travel there to see these guys and an opportunity to talk to some different staffs and learn some things."

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

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?
"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."

Regarding Emmanuel specifically, I can't remember if it was RC (Ronald Curry) or CJ (Curtis Johnson) who said it the other day, 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?
"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."

Sean had mentioned that you guys were looking at dialing back Drew's snaps on Thursdays, if you guys do that, does that help a lot with being able to evaluate Jameis (Winston), teach him some things and kind of find out really what you have in that room?
"I think again, since I've been here, I've loved the room that we've got and then dialing back Drew (on) some reps. I think that's going to be a good opportunity for both Taysom (Hill) and Jameis as we get into the training camp and getting those guys opportunities to get some reps with the ones. So you are going to see those guys mixing around. And again, I do think it is beneficial for those guys to have reps with everybody."

When you look at Jameis, 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 will help them with?
"Well, I think this, 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 with these virtual meetings, 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."

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. Just maybe, I don't think we've talked to you since the draft, the potential of some shifts there, and then your virtual meetings, maybe with Ruiz and understanding, because you can't obviously be there with Drew, if he is going to play center, just kind of how that process has been going with what he's been asking and how his development has gone since you all selected him?
"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 is 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 Dan Roushar and 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."

Dan Campbell talked the other day 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. I know a lot of that had to do with injury and him getting adjusted for a while, but was there also things that you guys learned about how to use his skillset that you're excited to sort of advance on going forward?
"Yeah, again, we were real excited when we signed him in free agency this past year and we saw him do a lot of good things on film, we were excited with what we saw. And again, it took us a little while to get going with him during the season. Again, part of that was us just giving him those opportunities. And so the more opportunities that he got seemed to all of a sudden take off, and 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. And again, 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."

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?
"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 again, 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."

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?
"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. And again, 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 just 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."

We've heard a couple of guys talk now about how (Adam) Trautman really started kind of standing out at the Senior Bowl. Is that the case for you as well and what are you hoping to see out of him when training camp actually starts?
"Yes, he did stand out to us at the Senior Bowl and it was like, hey, there he is making another play there, there he is making another play as you're watching the practices. The one thing about being on the meetings with him and having some text conversations with him is his he's raring to go, he's ready to get here. He loves the game. He can't wait till the day that training camp starts. He's looking forward to that. And he's really sharp. Again, another guy that's asking the right questions, that's detailed in the meetings. And so we're really excited about having him and he's going to have a role for us."

If he's ready to go early, how would being able to use more at 12 and 13 personnel change the offense and what you can do?
"I think really when you go back over the years and you look at our offense and what we've done is I think the 12 personnel and the 13 personnel, that's been a big part of our offense. So is 21 with a fullback on the field. So all those things have been a big part of our offense, it seems like the NFL has kind of gradually gone towards maybe where it's 11 and having three receivers out there. But we're able to do a lot of those things as well in 12. The nice thing about being able to do some of the pass stuff in the 12 game is you're also able to run the football, which we plan on doing when we were in 12 against maybe some nickel defenses."

How does Josh Hill kind of play into that?
"Josh is so versatile and he's such a smart player. He's so dependable, you know exactly what you're going to get from him. He's a staple of this offense. And again, we're really excited about that room. It's a room that is going to bring production for us."

Just going back to Jared Cook for a second, can you describe what it is that once you had him in the building you really liked about his skillset and his ability?

"Again, prior to us signing him in free agency, you saw a lot of things he did on film and really (it was) just a matter of making sure that the success he had, that we're doing those same things and making sure we're putting them in that those spots. And again, it took us a while, all of a sudden middle of the season we're splitting him out by himself and he's kind of running some option type routes and he really had success. And the other thing is getting the ball in his hands and he's explosive when he catches the ball, man, he goes and he's physical. And so, again, it's just building on those things."

I feel like one of the kind of buzz words in the NFL right now is the positionless player. You guys may have brought some of that in with Taysom (Hill), but does Ty Montgomery kind of fit that as well where you could use them in multiple ways?
"I think that's the vision. You go back over the years and the halfbacks that we've been able to split out and play some receivers and in some type of empty sets or coming out of the backfield, those guys have had success in our offense and the vision is there. It's clear that he has that ability."

Much is made of the relationship between Sean Payton and Drew Brees, but you even go back further with Drew back years before to San Diego, just maybe evolution of your relationship? 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?
"It is clearly rare and just the fact that I have walked into the same building as him now for what we'll now start 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."

Kind of following up on that, do you ever find yourself having to kind of slow down when you're explaining things because you've worked with Drew so long and Coach Payton, you guys kind of know where it which page each other's on? When you bring somebody new, like Emmanuel Sanders or Ty Montgomery into the offense, do you have to slow it down a little bit?
"Yeah, I think both Sean and Drew understand that there's a process to this. The work on the field, you know how Drew is, he's tireless out there working with these guys and he is always going to stay after practice, to work to get it right. But again, I think as we're going along, we got to make sure that we are not just throwing it all in there and we can't get bored because there's a progression to the teaching. Sean starts it over every year. When we build our installs, it's always, by the time they get to training camp, and again, we'll have the same process because we've had these virtual meetings. By the time we get to training camp, they'll have heard this same install now going on the third time. The thing we just don't have is the reps on the field. And so, again, some of that we'll have to progress along."

If there are no fans at the games and people can hear your communication on the field, will that change anything for you guys? Will you guys have to change out more often? Will you got to protect against it?
"We do pay attention to it. And again, a lot of times these plays that we're also talking about that were maybe yelling out communication, there's also signals that we use. They are probably, as we're going through a season signals may change too, because you're going to see that on the video to begin with. We'll pay attention to it, but we've been doing what we've been doing for 14 years now. We've been using some of the same signals, again, we'll change them occasionally, but I think that we'll be paying attention to that."

How much do you think Alvin (Kamara) was limited by injury last year, just with what he was normally able to do?
"Yeah, I think that you go back and you look some of the early games in the season and there were some wow moments of him, just all of a sudden you are on the sidelines watching and you're thinking it's going to be second and eight and all of a sudden it is another first down. I think there were obviously some limitations as to what he was able to do, but again, it'll set up for this year for him to be coming back hungry and ready to go."

How long does it really take to figure out the right rhythm when you're working two new backs in together like Alvin and Mark (Ingram) had that thing going for a couple of years, and then you bring a new player in like Latavius (Murray). How long did to take to really kind of figure out how to exactly to shift them in and out?
"I think that it took us a little bit last year and then all of a sudden Alvin was hurt and Latavius was the lead guy. Obviously, we had a lot of success with him. And so I think that process will start early right away. We know the two players, know both what they can do, we feel good with either guy being out there. And so I think that process starts right away for us."

You mentioned Taysom when comes in and the idea's for him to compete at quarterback. Is that the same thing for Tommy Stevens or will he be more looking at other positions and quarterback secondary?
"I think that we see some of those similar skillsets. I'm not going to compare him to Taysom right now, but again, we do see some of those skill sets. So I think early on, he comes in, he's competing at the quarterback position as well, and then an opportunity for us to maybe move him around just to see what he can do and get him on special teams and see if he comes down and how he covers the kicks. So I think again, the goal is to start him at the quarterback position, but we have to find out. And so he'll have an opportunity to do some things there as well."

When you're looking at the turnovers that Jameis (Winston) had in his last year in Tampa, is that stuff that you can kind of identify as fixable, teachable stuff there to help him eliminate that from the game?
"Yeah, I think the first thing I would say is that he recognizes it too as well and so that's the first step. I think that, again, in these meetings and listening to him and hearing him ask questions, he's obviously a very smart player. But you go back and look at a lot of successful quarterbacks in this league and Jameis is still young. He's 26 years old. It took some guys that are successful in this league early in their careers maybe didn't play as well as they're (capable of). It took Drew a couple of years to get going as well. We feel really good about having that player in the building."

When you look at Jameis' interceptions last year, Sean has said before all of the factors that go into making a quarterback look good or bad, can you give us a sense of how much of that is individual stuff or decision making that you want to work on with him, and how much of that was other breakdowns that you saw on film that may have had less to do with what he was thinking on that play rather than what someone else was doing?
"I think with all the quarterbacks you go back and you have an interception reel that you have time to look at during the offseason and go back and kind of say, okay, which ones of these were maybe just a bad, you missed the target, which one of these were bad decisions, which one of these were you getting hit as you release, which balls were tipped at the line of scrimmage. You kind of go back, you talk through those and they pushed the ball down field there and so obviously there was going to be maybe a bigger risk on some certain plays, but I think that as we go through our system and we get the details down, we can feel like we can make improvements there."

How do you think Emmanuel Sanders in might help Tre'Quan (Smith) maybe settle into a role where he can shine consistently?
"I think when you talk about Tre'Quan, for him, he's done everything we've asked him. He has done a great job for us blocking, does a great job when we get the ball in his hands. You look and you would say that he has really, maybe not necessarily had the same amount of opportunities that maybe some of these other guys had, but we feel like if we have those three guys on the field that we'll have an opportunity to move the ball around, get guys involved. Whether Tre'Quan ends up playing inside some and Emmanuel outside, or vice versa, depending on the play and what scheme we're running. I do think having Emmanuel brings some versatility to the way we can move guys around."

What has this been like for you just as a dad? You're not getting as much face to face time with players, but maybe a little bit more time with your family. What does that kind of enable you to do? 
"It's really been great family time. It's funny because at some point when the offseason had started, when we were still in the offices, I'd gone in to talk to Dan Roushar one day and I was just like, you know Dan, it hit me last night. I have two kids off in college. My other son is involved in baseball and by the time he gets home, he showers, eats and all of a sudden he's up in his room saying he's doing homework, maybe playing video games. But, I was talking to Dan and he's got his third going off to college this year and just talking about man, it felt like an empty house for a while and all of a sudden now everybody's home. So it's been great having them home. My oldest son's home from college, he goes to college up at the University of Illinois. It's been nice for my younger son because now the two of them, they're buddies, they hang out, they're out in the driveway playing basketball, they can go out in the batting cage, they do everything together, they fish together. So that's been nice. It's probably been a little bit harder on my daughter because, unlike me, she's very social and she likes to get out and about. It's been a little bit probably harder for her being home, but her and my wife have found things to do and they give me the two dogs. So those are my partners at the house, but it's been great having family time at nighttime. It's been a while since we've had these family meals and it seems like we're having those every night."

When Sean got sick, he said that you have to protect all of the coaches, but especially you because of your diabetes, have you all talked about how you're going to continue to stay distanced, especially when your health is of the utmost importance?
"Yeah, I think obviously right now at home, the kids had paid attention to it. My wife's paid attention to it. So we, again, we're really following the guidelines of social distancing and those factors, but I really haven't had an opportunity, or we haven't really had that discussion yet as we probably wait a little bit longer before we have those discussions about work and going back and how that's all going to work out and just kind of see where we're at atthat point instead of maybe trying to decide now, and then a month later maybe something changes. Again, it'll probably just be a matter of just being extra cautious."

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