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USA TODAY Sports Media Group
Dennis Allen not making rash decision on Saints' offensive play caller
By John Sigler,
It’s important to remember that “fan” is short for “fanatic.” Fans want to see emotion and drama and high stakes discussion in the aftermath of a painful loss — so it’s easy to understand their frustration when New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen kept a cool head after Sunday’s hard-to-watch collapse against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Especially when the topic of the offensive play caller came up. Pete Carmichael has left a lot to be desired in that role. The longtime offensive coordinator became the primary play caller last season for the first time in years, and he didn’t have the benefits of Sean Payton’s input or Drew Brees’ execution like he had before.
With the offense averaging just 13.8 points per game through the first four weeks this season, a regression from their already-poor scoring output a year ago, it’s fair to wonder how much patience Allen has for him in that role. NewOrleans.Football’s Brooke Kirchhofer asked Allen whether he’d consider a change on the headset after the Bucs embarrassed the Saints 26-9 at home.
“I’m not going there,” Allen said during his postgame press conference. “You know, we’ll go and look and see what we could have done better — all of us, coaches and players — and then we’ll go from there.”
Allen offered Carmichael a vote of confidence, adding that he thought the play calling was much better against the Bucs than in past weeks. But that rings hollow in the face of results. This was one of the worst offensive performances we’ve seen from this team in years and Carmichael is responsible for a big part of it. He dropped the ball in too many situations to escape blame. It’s just one example, but the offense went 5-of-14 on third down with Derek Carr having no options near the first down marker; Carmichael repeatedly sent the receivers too far downfield, forcing Carr to try a difficult throw without the option for a layup. It’s okay to pick up a first down and live another day. Not every swing needs to be a home run.
All that’s said to say that Allen must make a change, whether he wants to acknowledge it immediately postgame or not. Fans aren’t going to want to hear this, but he’s taking the right approach. An emotional decision to dismiss Carmichael on the spot would have been cathartic for viewers but let’s be real: no one deserves to find out they’re losing their job like that. These are conversations that should happen in private before being leaked to the media or formally announced. There are right and wrong ways to treat people here like in any other business.
So if that’s the plan — for Allen and his staff to review the tape, sleep on it, and then make a tough decision to take play-calling away from Carmichael before going in a new direction — then it’s something we can stand behind. The problem arises if Allen does all of that but balks at the possibility of a switch. The Saints can’t keep doing the same thing, running the same plays that aren’t working with the same decision-maker on the headset who hasn’t performed through 21 games with three different quarterbacks, and expect different results. That’s a mistake they can’t afford to make. If Allen takes that path the Saints will likely be looking to replace him and Carmichael both in a few months.