1. Carmichael has already been prepped for the role.
After Payton injured his leg in Week 6 of the 2011 season, Carmichael stepped in to take over the offense. No one knew then that this would pay huge dividends in 2012, but the 10-game trial run allowed Carmichael to demonstrate his offensive capabilities and earn the respect of his fellow coaches and the players in the locker room.
I was blown away by the Saints' remarkable production under Carmichael. The unit averaged a staggering 476.1 yards, 26.9 first downs and 37 points per game, amassing 500-plus yards of total offense in four outings and topping the 40-point mark six times in that span.
Carmichael didn't deviate much from the diverse, high-octane approach favored by Payton. He continued using multiple formations and personnel packages to mask New Orleans' favorite concepts, and showed the creativity to implement new play designs that exploited opponents' weakest areas.
Most importantly, Carmichael made game-day adjustments to counter effective defensive tactics. In the NFL, the most-feared play callers have the football aptitude and confidence to alter their traditional approach when needed. Carmichael routinely switched his script based on the defensive game plan, a skill that was never more important than during the Saints' win over the Detroit Lions in the wild-card round of the postseason.
The Lions were able to generate consistent pressure against quarterback Drew Brees during the first half of that game by having their defensive ends play in a wide-nine alignment. The extreme alignment of the edge players made it difficult for the Saints' offensive tackles to block, and Brees was sacked twice. The Saints responded by incorporating more empty formations, with running back Darren Sproles and tight end Jimmy Graham positioned slightly outside of the offensive tackles, eliminating the short corners and giving Brees a few extra seconds to attack downfield:
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