It's no secret the offense of the New Orleans Saints haven't met expectations so far in 2023. Here is how the Saints can fix this glaring issue on their team.
The New Orleans Saints currently rank 17th in yards per game and 21st in points per game after seven games of the 2023 season. Saints fans everywhere are clamoring to see an improved offensive performance that can match the relative consistency of the Saints defense. This would hopefully lead to their first division title since the days of Drew Brees. Here are five simple steps to satisfy Who Dat Nation and improve the offensive performance over the course of the rest of the season.
1) Strip Pete Carmichael of play-calling duties and give it to Ronald Curry
Even the most casual football observer can note the simplicity of the Saints offense and Carmichael's scheme. Most of the blame should be directed at Dennis Allen and Saints management, who should have made it a priority to bring in a top offensive mind upon Sean Payton's departure. It would be near impossible to bring in someone from the outside to reset the Saints offense in the midst of the season. However, elevating current quarterbacks coach Ronald Curry to the role of offensive coordinator and primary play-caller could provide the Saints offense with a jolt of energy.
It's clear that Derek Carr and the Saints offensive playmakers do not believe in Carmichael's system. Curry recently served as offensive coordinator at last year's Senior Bowl and could be the change necessary to salvage the Saints offense and season.
2) Throw the ball down the field
The presence of Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed should mean several deep throws for the Saints offense. Instead, Derek Carr currently ranks 28th in depth of passes thrown through the first seven games of the season. With the Saints offense having trouble sustaining drives, getting chunk plays through completions or even pass interference on deep throws would be extremely beneficial.
It would also open up the running game and short passing game as the safeties would be reluctant to crowd the line of scrimmage. The transition to Ronald Curry as offensive coordinator could help in this regard as the former North Carolina quarterback left Chapel Hill with school records in passing yards and total offense.
3) Get Taysom Hill more involved
The most frustrating aspect of the Saints season thus far is the offensive ineptitude in relation to the multiple playmakers on that side of the ball. Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Olave, Shaheed, Taysom Hill...the list goes on and on. One interesting stat is that the Saints are 13-4 when Hill scores a touchdown.
Taysom power should be the Saints equivalent of the Philadelphia Eagles Brotherly Shove in short-yardage or goal-line situations. On Thursday night, once the Saints reached the four yard-line at the end of the game and had their full allotment of timeouts, Hill should have run power on all four plays. It would be nearly impossible for the Jaguars defense to stop it four times so close to the goal line. Again, offensive in-game situational play-calling...
4) Fix the offensive line and blocking schemes
The selection of Trevor Penning in last year's draft and his subsequent struggles looms large here. Penning does not seem to possess the footwork needed to play left tackle in the NFL. He profiles more as a guard although his height could limit his move to the interior. Keep James Hurst at left tackle with Andrus Peat as his backup for the rest of this season. Erik McCoy and Ryan Ramczyk are All-Pro level players and Cesar Ruiz is an ascending player who just received an extension this past offseason. The last guard spot on the offensive line should go to either Max Garcia or Cam Erving, who played well at tackle against the Jaguars but has experience playing on the interior of the offensive line.
5) Derek Carr...start yelling at yourself
The performance of Derek Carr in his first year as the Saints signal-caller leaves a lot to be desired. Even accounting for the poor play-calling thus far, Carr has too often missed his reads or overthrown open receivers. He needs to cut out the habit of yelling at his offensive coordinator or wide receivers and be the leader and quarterback that he is capable of being.
The offense needs to be catered to Carr's strengths, such as the deep pass and max protections to account for his limited mobility. The days of Brees are done and the offensive system that fits Carr is far different than the one that Payton and Brees had success with for so many years. As much as Saints fans may want to look to this year's quarterback class as an answer, the fact remains that the earliest New Orleans could realistically get out of Carr's contract without a significant cap hit is in 2026, where there is an out clause that allows for only an 11-million dead cap hit if released.
The fact remains that the New Orleans Saints, despite their myriad of troubles early in the season, sit only one game out of the NFC South lead in what is arguably the weakest division in football. If New Orleans can get the offense on track, the chance of a division title and a home playoff game are well within reach. Beyond that, the possibilities are endless...