An Inside Look at the 2009 New Orleans Saints Coaching Staff
The 2009 offseason has brought several major changes to the Saints' coaching staff. In this piece, we'll examine who the new key coaches are, who got promoted, and what each man will bring to the table in 2009.
The most notable changes are at offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, running backs coach, and defensive line coach. The mixture of new and old faces on Sean Payton's staff is expected to breathe new life into the team in 2009, especially on defense.
Head Coach: Sean Payton
Sean Payton heads into his fourth season at the helm in New Orleans, and he's under some pressure to put the finishing pieces of the puzzle together.
The offensive-minded Payton has certainly brought in the right personnel. After all, his offense has been among the top in the NFL ever since his arrival. That same offense is anchored by the NFL's top quarterback, Drew Brees, who is Payton's hand-picked team leader.
Sean Payton did shake up his staff this year, most notably by firing defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and bringing in Gregg Williams. The defensive woes in New Orleans were starting to chip away at Payton's popularity, which is substantial.
The move shows Payton's willingness to win over protecting egos, something that has plagued many Saints head coaches in the past. Payton has shown a lot of deference ever since Williams' arrival, particularly in the draft and during minicamps and OTA's.
This is exactly the kind of relationship Payton was looking for, one that would let him put the defense on autopilot while allowing him to focus on perfecting his offense.
Sean Payton is the 14th head coach of the New Orleans Saints franchise.
Offensive Coordinator: Pete Carmichael, Jr.
Pete Carmichael is entering his fourth season with the New Orleans Saints, but he was promoted to offensive coordinator on Jan. 12, 2009. Carmichael's previous tenure with the Saints has been spent as the quarterbacks coach.
The offensive coordinator position became vacant in December of 2008 when Doug Marrone accepted the head coaching position at Syracuse University.
Carmichael came to New Orleans from San Diego, where he had spent four years tutoring Drew Brees. Sean Payton brought in Brees and Carmichael in 2006 as sort of a "package deal."
While it is well known Sean Payton is the chief play caller on the Saints offense, Carmichael is credited for being one of the architects of the team's potent passing attack.
In addition to San Diego, Carmichael's offensive coaching resume includes stints at the University of New Hampshire, Louisiana Tech University, the Cleveland Browns, and the Washington Redskins.
Pete Carmichael, Jr. is 37 years old.
Defensive Coordinator: Gregg Williams
Gregg Williams was named defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 15, 2009. The position became vacant on Jan. 7, 2009 when head coach Sean Payton fired former defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs.
Williams has a reputation of running very aggressive, but sound defensive squads. He has held the same position with the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Williams likes to run a 4-3 scheme that focuses heavily on pressuring the quarterback. This strategy will be music to the ears of Saints fans who have grown very frustrated over the lack of forced turnovers and quarterback pressure form previous defensive units.
Gregg Williams was given prerogative in this year's draft by utilizing three of the Saints four draft picks on defensive selections. Williams plans to focus on rebuilding the Saints' weak secondary while realizing more potential out of his veterans.
Williams has improved defensive performance for every team he's coached for and has led three top-five defenses in the last six years. It is speculated that Williams will have more autonomy to run his unit with the Saints than he has had in the past.
Gregg Williams is 50 years old.
Special Teams Coordinator: Greg McMahon
Greg McMahon was recently promoted to special teams coordinator after spending his previous two years with the Saints as assistant special teams coach.
Sean Payton hired McMahon in 2006 after a distinguished career coaching special teams in the college ranks. McMahon came to the Saints after a one year stop at East Carolina. Prior to that, McMahon spent 13 years as the special teams coach at the University of Illinois.
The Saints hope to build on the corrective action taken in 2008 when a poor kicking game cost the Saints several possible wins. Martin Gramatica was struggling early on but then went out with an injury. Garret Hartley has emerged as the presumed starting placekicker.
McMahon's unit did make headlines on draft day, however, when Saints management traded up in the fifth round to select former SMU punter Thomas Morestead.
Greg McMahon is 47 years old.
Secondary Coach: Dennis Allen
In 2008 Dennis Allen was moved from being the Saints defensive line coach to the daunting task of taking over the defensive secondary, a unit that new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams hopes to retool this season.
Allen is credited with shaping a defensive line that has been one of the only bright spots on the Saints defense over the last few seasons. Under Williams' command, however, Allen's unit is sure to take on a whole new scheme.
Dennis Allen will also be charged with mentoring the Saints first overall pick in the 2009 draft, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. Saints officials have placed a lot of confidence in Jenkins' ability to contribute right away to the team's pass coverage, and Allen will be a key player in realizing that goal.
Dennis Allen is 35 years old.
Defensive Line Coach: Bill Johnson
Bill Johnson was made the defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 10, 2009. Johnson succeeds Dennis Allen in this position, who was recently moved to secondary coach.
Johnson's extensive experience at coaching defensive lines goes all the way back to the college ranks in 1988, where he held this position at Louisiana Tech, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.
This will be Bill Johnson's third assignment as an NFL D-Line coach. His former employers include the Atlanta Falcons and the Denver Broncos.
Johnson has coached many Pro Bowl linemen during his career, including Atlanta's Patrick Kerney and Rod Coleman. He plans to bring his experience with beefing up third-down defenses to New Orleans, as well as put more focus on forced turnovers and quarterback pressure.
These are also two of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' top priorities this season, which makes Johnson a good fit.
This is a homecoming of sorts for Bill Johnson, as he was himself a four-year letterman at Northwestern State in Nacthitoches, LA from 1982-1984.
Bill Johnson is 54 years old.
Running Backs Coach: Bret Ingalls
Ingalls was installed as the New Orleans Saints running backs coach on Jan. 12, 2009.
Ingalls spent the last three years a Northwestern Univeristy as an offensive line coach where he was noted for starting five relatively inexperienced players with much success.
His running unit helped the team achieve an average of over 140 yards per game while allowing the second-fewest sacks in the Big Ten that year.
Ingalls' former experience also includes coaching tight ends and tackles at Miami University and Indiana State. He has also served as an offensive coordinator at the University of Idaho as well as at Louisville.
Ingalls also has a connection to Sean Payton. They were both staff coaches at San Diego State in the late '80s.
Bret Ingalls is 40 years old.
Wide Receivers Coach: Curtis Johnson
Going into his fourth year with the Saints organization, Curtis Johnson has done nothing but coach wide receivers in a career that spans back to 1987.
Johnson, a New Orleans native, joined the Saints with Sean Payton in 2006. Prior to this assignment, he was the wide receivers coach at Miami (FL), where he mentored a myriad of wide receiver talent—including five No. 1 draft picks.
Johnson wasted no time with young receivers like Marques Colston and David Patten, who have moved into the top ranks of NFL wide receivers. He is also credited for the emergence of up-and-coming receiver Lance Moore.
Curtis Johnson's connection with Sean Payton also goes back to their stints at San Diego State in the late '80s and early '90s.
Curtis Johnson is 45 years old.