Carmichael runs show
It was assumed Payton would resume calling plays for the Saints' high-powered offense when his broken leg mended and he returned to the sideline in mid-November. Payton, after all, is widely regarded as one of the game's foremost offensive wizards, and he had called every play during his first six seasons with the Saints.
But the Saints surged offensively in Payton's absence, and to his credit, he selflessly ceded the duties to Carmichael for the good of continuity.
Payton continues to have final say and remains heavily involved during games, offering suggestions on almost every series, as do Kromer and quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi. But it's Carmichael's voice that's in Drew Brees' ear. And it's Carmichael's mind that is cataloguing and creating the on-field rhythm.
"We're on a roll, and obviously he's doing a great job -- not just a good job, he's doing a great job," Brees said. "I think we all feel comfortable with the way the dynamics have been here the last 10 weeks."
What's not to like?
The Saints' offense shattered several NFL records this season, including the league mark for most yards in a season. They set a club record with 617 yards in their regular season finale against the Panthers. A week later they set an NFL postseason record with 626 yards against the Lions. They'll enter Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers with a streak of four games with at least 40 or more points.
In a results-oriented business, those accomplishments are hard to ignore. NFL general managers surely have taken notice.