Co-Host of WWL's "SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia," Weekdays 4-8PM
Deke: Improved rushing offense will aid Saints D
by Deke Bellavia,posted Feb 26 2013 8:46AM
A good offense is a good defense, right? Well, when it comes to breaking down the New Orleans Saints defense, I think one of the most important things that can aid this team is a consistent rushing attack on offense.
In 2012 the Saints had the worst defense in NFL history, and the Saints rushing offense did not help to keep the defense off the field. The Saints had one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL, and if the Saints D is going to improve, the ability to rush the football is critical.
The Saints finished 25th in the NFL last season. The Black & Gold rushed the ball less that 35% of the time on offense, which is seven percent lower than the NFL average of 42%. New Orleans rushed the ball more than only three of the 32 NFL teams. And if you’re looking at the who’s who of rushing, playoff teams rushed the ball an average of 45%.
In 2012 New Orleans rushed the ball 370 times for an average of 98.6 yards per game. The inability to rush the football with solid consistency was a huge contribution to the Saints disappointing 7-9 overall record. Only Jacksonville, Arizona and Dallas rushed the ball less.
With some big questions looming about the Saints O-Line, this offseason a key factor will be figuring out who will be in the trenches. Left Tackle Jermon Bushrod and Center Brian De La Puente are both free agents. And, the play by Zach Strief and Charles Brown at right tackle was not up to par.
Last season there were several examples that exposed this weakness. If the Saints had been able to rush the football, they could’ve kept the defense off the field and possibly scored more wins. We all remember the horrible loss to the Chiefs in which the Saints failed to rush the ball and protect a double digit lead. And, more often than not the Saints fell behind in games and were not able to rush the football to give the team a fighting chance.
And, of course, the Saints rushing defense did not help their own cause…allowing a league worst 147.6 yards per game. Opposing teams’ offensive units kept the Saints D on the field and the Saints offense on the bench.
The Saints running back numbers were not impressive either. Running Back Mark Ingram led the team with 602 rushing yards; Pierre Thomas had 473; Chris Ivory added 217 and Darren Sproles finished the season with 244 yards. Not good.
So, Coach Rob Ryan was hired to help improve a poor defense. But, I’m more than sure Coach Sean Payton knows rushing the football will help his defense stay off the field. And, from the looks of what we witnessed in 2012 the less time the Saints defense is on the field the better the chances the Saints have to win!
Should We Stick With One Featured Back Instead of Four?
Darren Sproles should and always be a 3rd-down, chance-of-pace back with his great hands and elusive play. I'm beginning to wonder if the Saints shouldn't just play Thomas, Ingram, or Ivory heavily and let the others do mop up duty or relinquished playing time. A running back committe is no stranger to Louisiana football fans (like LSU), but we haven't really seen a dominating, 3-down back since Deuce McAllister. Pierre Thomas looks really great at times, as do the others, but we need great consistent play in order to make it back to the Super Bowl. WHO DAT 4 LIFE!
I think we should trade Ingram and just hand the ball more to Ivory because they struggled to utilize all 4 backs so I say let Ingram and Thomas walk and keep SPROLES, IVORY, CADET
Improper use of five running backs in N.O
We should only keep 3 running backs and trade the other two Ingram & Thomas not Ivory give him a chance not letting him only get 10 carries was poor judgement let's remember that Ivory pushed and made Ingram shine last year watch the last six games
Thomas is definately the best RB the Saints have. I would keep Thomas, Ivory, and Sproles. Ingram is another Bush, he is not a bad RB but he hurts the team by being there. Because the Saints chose him in 1st round , they feel they have to play him.
Thomas is the most complete and consistant back period.
Not only that
Not just rushing the ball but somewhat like the rush that Sean Payton did religously that didn't happen last year was the short passes to Sproles outta the backfield. Sproles broke the all purpose yards mark for a single season when Sean was calling the plays and I'm sure he'll get back to that. For some reason Carmichael didn't do that too much !!!
Thomas is the team's top back. He may not have speed but runs with vision and power. He can also block and runs the screen better than anyone. He needs more carries. Sproles is a great thurd down and change of pace back but should be used less often. Ivory is strictly power and is not very versatile. But his power makes him a keeper. Ingram is a solid back but would fare better on another team. Trading him for o-linemen or defense would make sense to me. Depth at tailback is important as 2010 showed us, but this is overkill.