The Steelers didn’t do the Saints any favors. By firing Matt Canada, Pittsburgh got rid of an offensive coordinator who was arguably the most unpopular coach in the NFL. Now, that title may belong to Carmichael — who has drawn the ire of Saints fans throughout the season.
But coach Dennis Allen didn’t make any changes to his coaching staff during this past bye week. And frankly, it’s hard to see him making any moves until at least the offseason. That’s just how the Saints operate.
In Mickey Loomis’ 21 years at the helm as general manager, New Orleans has only fired one assistant before the season concluded. That was defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in 2015, which coincidentally led to Allen taking the role. Former coach Sean Payton was loyal to his assistants, and that’s an organizational belief that remains even after his departure.
In Ryan’s case, the Saints made a move because New Orleans’ defense had bottomed out over two-plus seasons. Ryan led a top-ranked unit in 2013, but the defense cratered the following two years. Payton then let Ryan go after a humiliating loss to Washington, right before New Orleans’ bye.
But the circumstances surrounding Carmichael are different. For one, the Saints’ offense doesn’t rank nearly as poorly as Ryan’s defense did in 2015. New Orleans ranks 18th in points per game, 13th in total yards and 20th in offensive DVOA, a metric that measures efficiency. Those numbers aren’t great, but not terrible enough for the Saints to consider making a change — especially while still in first place of the division.
Now, the Bills, of course, made a change despite Buffalo’s offense ranking well above average statistically. The Steelers (6-4) also technically had a winning record this season with Canada. Why were those teams willing to pull the plug, you may ask, when the Saints are seemingly not? That’s a fair question, but the answer again goes back to the circumstances.
In Buffalo, coach Sean McDermott is desperately trying to keep the Bills in contention before their Super Bowl window closes. The Saints also have championship aspirations, but McDermott told reporters that he felt like something needed to change amid Buffalo’s season slipping away. The Steelers, by contrast, were among the worst teams in the league offensively in Canada’s two seasons and need to find out if 2022 first rounder Kenny Pickett is the long-term answer at quarterback.
If Allen had wanted to fire Carmichael this season, the bye week likely would have been the time to do it since that would have given New Orleans a smooth opportunity to manage the transition. But Allen said he didn’t “anticipate” any changes to his staff. And sure enough, none were made.
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