Co-Host of WWL's "SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia," Weekdays 4-8PM
Deke Bellavia: Saints run game - has the tide turned?
by Deke Bellavia, firstname.lastname@example.org, @dekebigchief,posted Nov 15 2013 8:44AM
Looking at the 2013 New Orleans Saints, last week would have to be considered a breakout game for the Saints running game. Prior to their Sunday night beat down of Dallas, the Saints ranked 26th in rushing yards per game with a 79.8 yards per game average.
The Saints brought a full lunch pail to the Mercedes Benz Superdome Sunday night, gashing the Silver Stars by gaining 242 yards on the ground on 38 carries. As a team, New Orleans averaged 6.4 rushing yards each time they carried the football.
Now I think all of us realize those numbers will not be obtained each week. Weekly improvement is a more realistic goal. Entering the Dallas game, the Saints had rushed for over 100 yards just twice this season. And in their other six games, New Orleans failed to reach 80 yards rushing.
New Orleans picked up 162 yards more than their previous average of 79.8 yards. And, the most important factor--the Saints ability to be more balanced on offense. Coach Sean Payton says balance is a weekly goal for his offense.
"We hope so. Each game, each week kind of takes a little shape of it's on. It (Dallas game) was one of those games that I thought we blocked them (Cowboys) well. I thought Jed (Collins) did a very good job blocking. And, I thought our receivers blocked well also," Payton said after the Saints reached a season high in rushing yards.
Simply put, when the Saints are balanced on offense they are unstoppable. Before the Dallas game the Saints averaged 40.3 passing attempts per game to go along with 23.9 rushes. Against Dallas the offensive balance was nearly perfect. "Each week we try to pay attention to it (running the football) and we want to have balance," said Sean Payton.
The Saints had 41 pass attempts and 38 rushing attempts. "You know we were able to run the ball maybe more than we thought against the Cowboys. The team we are getting ready to play Sunday (San Francisco) is outstanding in their run fronts and run fits. And over all they have a very good defense.
And then, of course, there's running back Mark Ingram, Jr.. Was Ingram's first big game in a Saints uniform a sign of things to come, or an aberration? Ingram seems to be healthy. And, his numbers show an upward trend. Ingram had 145 yards on 14 carries versus the Cowboys. Coach Sean Payton was happy to see his RB have a breakout game.
"All these crazy reports about a trade and just garbage in the newspaper and garbage on the radio about what he (Ingram) can and can't do. Mark was professional and he hung in there. I'm pleased for him," Payton said of his 2011 1st round draft pick.
Before the Dallas game, RB Mark Ingram played in just three of the Saints first eight games of the 2013 season. Against the Falcons Ingram had 11 yards on nine carries with a dismal 1.2 yards per rush. Ingram didn't do much better against Tampa Bay, carrying the ball eight times for 20 yards with a 2.5 per carry average. But, in his last two games, the numbers show Ingram moving in the right direction.
Against the New York Jets, the third year player from Alabama averaged 4.8 yards per attempt. And against Dallas, Ingram had fantasy type output. Mark carried the ball 14 times for 145 yards and scored a touchdown. Ingram averaged a whopping 10.5 yards per carry.
So, let's dig a little deeper. Ingram has rushed the football in four games this season. Overall Mark has 35 rushing attempts for 195 yards with5.6 yards per carry average.
In his first two games against Atlanta and Tampa, #22 carried the ball a combined 17 times for 31 yards with a poor average of just 1.8 yard per rush.
Now, let's look at the last two outings for the former Crimson Tide standout.Ingram has carried the ball a total of 18 times in his last two games for a total of 164
yards. Folks, that's an average of 9.1 yards per carry…quite impressive. Please don't expect those numbers to be showing up in the stat sheet each week.
If Ingram can average what his current overall season average is (5.6 yards), the Saints offense will continue to be balanced and become more and more difficult to defend.