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New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; By pedigree alone, the New Orleans Saints' running backs should have no problem putting together a great season. Mark Ingram is a former Heisman Trophy winner who rushed for more than 3,000 yards and had 600 receiving yards in his ...

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Old 08-31-2013, 05:59 PM   #1
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New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

By pedigree alone, the New Orleans Saints' running backs should have no problem putting together a great season.

Mark Ingram is a former Heisman Trophy winner who rushed for more than 3,000 yards and had 600 receiving yards in his three years at Alabama. Pierre Thomas is one of four Saints with at least 2,500 rushing yards and 1,500 receiving yards. Darren Sproles set an NFL record in 2011 with 2,696 all-purpose yards.

But as last season showed, what you see isn't always what you get.

In 2012, the Saints' running game was 25th in the NFL, averaging 98.6 yards per game. That was a precipitous sharp fall from the 2011 season, when the Saints ranked sixth and finished with 2,127 total yards on the ground.

So what went wrong? There's no particular reason.

The Saints relied on Drew Brees as much as ever last season, compiling the No. 1 passing offense for the second straight year, while actually throwing for 299 fewer yards.

However, the Saints were often playing from behind, which meant abandoning the run.

Thomas said the running backs got away from what they do best. And while they don't want to dwell in the past, they'd love to get back to a more balanced attack like the 2009 Super Bowl season when New Orleans ranked fourth in the league in passing and sixth in rushing.

"We had good balance, we were running and passing the ball," Thomas said. "But we want to get back there, we want to improve in that and be better than that. So we're emphasizing the run a lot more."

Ingram, who lead the team with 602 yards rushing last season, said he finally feels healthy after spending his first two years in the league with various ailments. Ingram figures "the sky is the limit" for the trio

"I can run inside, outside, pass block, catch the ball and be an explosive player," he said. "I want to be able to execute and show that I can do whatever they ask me to do. I definitely want to show that I am more versatile."

There's also a renewed commitment to the outside-zone scheme, which coach Sean Payton mandated upon his return. The Saints also have shifted the staff, moving Bret Ingalls to offensive line coach and replacing him as running backs coach with Dan Roushar, who previously was Michigan State's offensive coordinator.

Thomas, who averaged 4.5 yards per carry last season, is eager to translate the effects of the commitment to the field.

"One of my goals is try and be the YAC king, yards after contact," Thomas said. "I'm not trying to let one guy take me down, it's going to have to take at least two or three guys, maybe 10."

Of course, that's easier said than done, particularly coming off a down season. But Thomas has been one of the proponents of getting the three backs out of their comfort zones and into new roles.

Ingram, for example, can be more than just a power runner, Thomas said. He can catch balls out of the backfield, too.

"I hear a lot that I was one of the best running the screens, but I tell these guys that they can run it, too," Thomas said.

Thomas said he'd also like to see the 5-foot-6, 190-pound Sproles utilized more in a tradition role, running between the tackles, to make the three-man rotation interchangeable.

"I've been stressing that so much to try and get him a lot of runs in the inside and try and get him the ball a lot more on the ground game," Thomas said.

Compared to the 5-11 Thomas, Sproles' stature makes it difficult for the defenders to keep track of him.

"It is hard for defenders to see him. You talk to our guys and I ask them questions like, 'Can you see Sproles as soon as the ball is snapped?'" Thomas said. "They said it was hard because sometimes they lose track of where he is at. If you have that, why not put him in. Why not use that to your advantage?

"He could squeeze through little holes that Mark Ingram and I can't. It's really good to see him out there switching it up and not always catching the passes from Drew or being out as a flank back, running behind the tackles and everything."

If anything can get them out of the stagnant position they were in last season, Ingram is all for it.

"It's just switching up the personnel and letting different guys run those plays," Ingram said. "It's not just one person, it can be multiple people lining up in different places and running different things and just nothing but help our offense and expand our offense and make it more difficult for defenses to scheme us and stop us."

The Saints' running back corps hasn't quite tapped their on-paper potential yet. But from what Thomas saw in the preseason, he thinks they're on the right track.

"We see a lot of good yardage on the ground, especially with the outside-zone runs, and not the insides as much as we used to do in the past," he said. "And that's something you look forward to seeing in your offense."

Added Ingram: "We just need to make plays in every phase of this offense, run game, passing game, picking up pass protection. We just need to be effective and efficient in every way possible."

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Old 08-31-2013, 09:22 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

Damn I hope the gel & kick ass this season.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:04 PM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

Running game still averaged 4.3 yards per carry last year. It's not like they were bad, they just didn't run it that often.
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:14 PM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

Run Baby run!
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:31 AM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

I just wish we could have another 1000yard back. It has been way too long.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:01 AM   #6
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

Originally Posted by Crusader View Post
I just wish we could have another 1000yard back. It has been way too long.

We have 1000 yard backs... We just don't put the mileage on them... Conversationalist approach.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:19 AM   #7
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

Originally Posted by TheOak View Post
We have 1000 yard backs... We just don't put the mileage on them... Conversationalist approach.
Ok let me rephrase. I wish we had a goddamn back that ran for 1000 goddamn yards like Deuce used to do.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:25 AM   #8
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

Originally Posted by Crusader View Post
Ok let me rephrase. I wish we had a goddamn back that ran for 1000 goddamn yards like Deuce used to do.
Argh said the Pirate.


That comes at a price. Deuce was injured so much in his last 4 seasons that he had only 1 1k year and other than that year he didn't make more than 6 games a season.


So having Deuce his last 4 seasons was like having another RB on the field more than 1/2 the season.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:03 AM   #9
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

Originally Posted by Jack Vegas View Post
Running game still averaged 4.3 yards per carry last year. It's not like they were bad, they just didn't run it that often.
And we have a winner.

In 2009, we ranked 7th in rushing attempts (468).
In 2012, we ranked 29th in rushing attempts (370).

If we had run the same amount of attempts in 2012, with our current YPC average, we'd have ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing.

And during Deuce's best year (1,671 yards) the Saints finished 12th in rushing.
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:10 AM   #10
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Re: New Orleans Saints looking to reinvigorate ground attack

I know I know. I just like a 1000 yard rusher ok? There is no logic behind it I just want it. Kinda like women and shoes.
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