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RockyMountainSaint 05-18-2005 10:49 PM

Article on Saints Running Game
Saints could lead running resurgence
By Chris Colston, Sports Weekly
In 2005, the NFL could be a league on the run.
With record-setting Peyton Manning leading the charge, the NFL was pass-happy in 2004. Quarterbacks everywhere took advantage of the 5-yard chuck rule enforcement. There's no reason to think that won't continue this season.

But this year could be a compelling year for NFL running backs. Three of the top five picks in this year's draft were ballcarriers, and their teams will count on them heavily from the start. All three — Miami's Ronnie Brown, Chicago's Cedric Benson and Tampa Bay's Carnell Williams — will be given every opportunity to become featured offensive threats.

And two 2004 reserves should have breakout seasons in their first full years as starters: Denver's Tatum Bell and Oakland's LaMont Jordan.

That means a lot of new faces could dominate the NFL rushing leaderboard. But one established star could bounce back and top them all.

In 2002, New Orleans' Deuce McAllister emerged as one of the league's best backs. He rushed for 1,388 yards, caught 47 passes for 352 and scored 16 touchdowns. He built on that success the next year, rushing for 1,641 yards, catching 69 passes for 516 yards and scoring eight TDs.

Last season the Saints began with a one-back set. It didn't work. McAllister dearly missed fullback Terrelle Smith, who had signed with Cleveland. McAllister struggled in Week 1 against Seattle, rushing for just 56 yards, and he sprained his ankle in Week 2 with 10:26 left in the first quarter. He missed the next two games and was never quite the same. New Orleans finished No. 27 in rushing.

But the Saints should rebound this season. Rookie fullback Mike Karney improved as the year went on. And this offseason, New Orleans signed free agent Jermane Mayberry to play right guard, and Montrae Holland will switch to the left side. Then they traded up three spots to draft Outland Trophy winner Jammal Brown, a right tackle from Oklahoma, at No. 13. And they brought in Antowain Smith, an established, experienced back to fill in for McAllister.

The moves are telling, especially the selection of Brown. The Saints, who had the league's lowest-rated defense last season, could have addressed that weakness and selected Georgia safety Thomas Davis. Instead they opted for Brown, whom they believe is more of a sure thing. They liked him so much they gave up a third-round pick in next year's draft to secure him.

It's also a sign that coach Jim Haslett wants his vision of this club finally fulfilled — a sort of Pittsburgh Steelers South, featuring a tough, ball-control running game. Such an approach also sets up the play-action pass, and quarterback Aaron Brooks has the arm strength for a vertical attack.

New offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard has reportedly simplified some of former coordinator Mike McCarthy's terminology. He is on the same page with Haslett and wants to establish the run.

New Orleans (8-8) finished the year with a four-game winning streak, and the players have embraced Haslett's offseason workout regimen. Momentum is going forward.

Brown is a big (6-6, 320 pounds) mauler who should start immediately on the right side next to Mayberry, who is regarded as a strong run blocker. Combined with center LeCharles Bentley, one of the league's best, McAllister will have running room. He'll need to report in shape, however. Because of the injury, he played at around 230 last year, and it seemed to cost him a step. He's at his best when he's 225.

McAllister is a man of great pride, and he will be ready to go. Now, the onus will be on that uneven defense. It's hard to run the ball every play when you're behind.

JKool 05-19-2005 02:30 AM

RE: Article on Saints Running Game
Nice find RMS!

This was particularly of note to me:

Now, the onus will be on that uneven defense. It's hard to run the ball every play when you're behind. (bold mine)
Now! Good to see that someone else thought the offense contributed to problems last year. It wasn't just our poor defense costing us games?

no_cloning 05-19-2005 08:12 AM

Re: RE: Article on Saints Running Game

Originally Posted by JKool
Good to see that someone else thought the offense contributed to problems last year. It wasn't just our poor defense costing us games?

Really? All I'm reading is that the bad defense caused the offense to be one-dimensional or at least that the Saints couldn't rely on the run as much as they might have liked to.
He doesn't say the bad rushing attack caused the defense to be on the field longer and contributed to their problems. That may have been the case, but it's not in the article.

WhoDat 05-19-2005 10:18 AM

RE: Re: RE: Article on Saints Running Game
In the article or not, the offense did hurt the defense. The defense sucked on its own, but the O certainly didn't help them out a lot of the time.

JKool 05-19-2005 12:48 PM

RE: Re: RE: Article on Saints Running Game
Finely put clone!

I did read a lot into that single word ("now").

Our offense couldn't have been that one dimensional. Our run-pass distribution was 47-53 per 100 plays.

Also, I didn't say that our bad rushing attack contributed to the problems, I said the offense; however, I'm inclined to say that it was the bad rushing attack (since our passing game actually wasn't too bad).

saintswhodi 05-19-2005 02:53 PM

A revival of an oldie but goodie. Offense did or did not contribute to a bad defense looking worse. Should be fun.

TheDeuce 05-19-2005 08:34 PM


The defense sucked on its own, but the O certainly didn't help them out a lot of the time.
How about this...... the offense hurt the defense because they gave the ball up and had plenty of three and outs which tired the defense. THen, the defense hurt the offense because they gave up so many points that we took the ball out of our best player's hands (Deuce) and gave it to a shaky player (AB), who coincidentally had to throw 60 passes a game. So both sides are to blame I guess as both sides made the other worse. As Fat Bastard would say, "It's a vicious cycle."

JKool 05-20-2005 12:20 PM

Duece, that position makes too much sense. How are we supposed to disagree over that? How about this: which one is to blame more for the Ls than the other? Now there is something people can get upset about. :wink:

WhoDat 05-20-2005 02:51 PM

I blame you, Kool.

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