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Cincinnati Bengals coaching candidate profile: Pete Carmichael

After 10 years of ridiculous offensive performances, Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael deserves a shot.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing the season with the NFL’s best record at 13-3, it’s no surprise that the New Orleans Saints have a couple of assistant coach that have become a part of this year’s coaching circuit. What may be surprising is finding out that one has gotten more interest than the other.

Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and tight ends coach Dan Campbell have been interviewed for a combined four times this past week, and Carmichael has just had one compared to Campbell’s three.

Campbell may appear to be the more popular name out there right now, but we’re here to make the case for Carmichael.


Carmichael has been the Saints offensive coordinator for 10 years and was previously their quarterbacks coach. In that time he has coached many great players and has shown the ability to utilize his personnel in a way that maximizes their talent. As a result, the Saints have put up ridiculous offensive numbers year in and year out.


  • 1994: New Hampshire (Assistant OL Coach)
  • 1995-1999: Louisiana Tech (QB Coach)
  • 2000: Cleveland Browns (TE Coach/Offensive Assistant)
  • 2001: Washington Redskins (Quality Control Coach)
  • 2002-2003: San Diego Chargers (Offensive Assistant/Quality Control Coach)
  • 2004-2005: San Diego Chargers (Assistant WR Coach/Quality Control Coach)
  • 2006: New Orleans Saints (QB Coach)
  • 2007-2008: New Orleans Saints (QB Coach/Pass Game Coordinator)
  • 2009-present: New Orleans Saints (Offensive Coordinator)

Why he could work

Carmichael has been the Saints offensive coordinator for 10 years. This means he is not just a flash in the pan like some of the other hot names who have not shown sustained success in the NFL. The Saints have been a top offense throughout his tenure and have changed over time to make the best use of their personnel.

Their use of running back Alvin Kamara in the passing game shows an understanding about how to put your best players in a position to succeed. Backup quarterback and Swiss army knife Taysom Hill provides another example of their creative use of personnel and could be a blueprint for the Bengals use of Jeff Driskel.

Carmichael has been the primary play caller at times, and at other times Sean Payton has taken that role and Carmichael has focused on 3rd down and red zone calls. This is similar to the role Frank Reich had with the Eagles.

Before taking over the offense in New Orleans, Carmichael was Drew Brees’ quarterbacks coach. This seems like an easy job now, but the pair arrived together from San Diego and after the Chargers had decided to go with Philip Rivers over Brees.

Carmichael helped Brees to establish himself as a future hall of famer and played a key role in the offense that allowed Brees to become the leagues all-time passing leader.

Why he may not be the guy

Carmichael is tied closely to two greats in Payton and Brees. The big question is: can he do it without them? He would presumably be the primary play caller in Cincinnati and would not have Payton’s expertise to lean on. This added with the overall management of the team, could prove difficult for Carmichael.

It should also be stated that Andy Dalton is not Brees. While Dalton has had some very good seasons and is the franchise leader in most passing statistics, he is not going to hear his name called in Canton after his retirement.

The Bengals may be able to match Kamara and Mark Ingram’s abilities with Joe Mixon and Michael Thomas’ with A.J. Green, but they will never match the quarterback play that Carmichael had in New Orleans.

Despite putting up video game numbers on offense, the Saints have only won one Super Bowl in the 12-year Brees/Payton era. Carmichael is not ultimately responsible for that, but it does make one question the Payton system that Carmichael is coming out of. A truly high standard, but this is how coaches are judged when they have great players.

Final Thoughts

Coordinators on the leagues top teams generally don’t go long before they have head coaching opportunities.

Carmichael has spent a decade as the offensive coordinator of an offense that is a regular NFL leader. He has led Brees to a record-breaking career and won a Super Bowl.

His tie to Payton may make some question how much of the offense is him, but his long enduring relationship with the great offensive mind is unique. Carmichael probably should have gotten a shot a long time ago.

He would make great use of the Bengals offensive weapons and get Dalton back to playing at a Pro Bowl level.