When mentioning the New Orleans Saints’ offense it can be easy to overlook the stable of running backs on the roster in favor of quarterback Drew Brees and the high-flying passing attack.
That would be a huge mistake in the 2013 season.
Chris Ivory may be gone, but the Saints have a three-headed monster at the position that will surprise the NFL next year. The collective talents of Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas form a combination that could give opposing defense headaches.
We all know what Sproles is capable of at any time. He possesses elite speed and elusiveness in the open field which allows him to make major contributions in both the passing and running game.
Then you have Ingram, who certainly has not had enough touches so far during his time with the Saints. He’s a banger between the tackles who can get the tough yards when the team needs them the most. Some have clamored for the “bust” label with Ingram but next year will ultimately decide if he deserves it. Becoming more versatile by improving his pass-catching skills would help him in a major way.
Finally you have Thomas. He may just be the most complete package the team has at the position. He catches passes out of the backfield well enough and can get the tough yards up the middle. His presence on the field creates an air of unpredictability thanks to his versatile skill set.
The combination of all three being used as interchangeable pieces could give opposing defenses fits next season, especially if Sproles can stay healthy and Ingram can work on his traits in the passing game.
Adding a powerful running game to complement the aerial attack in New Orleans will reduce the strain on quarterback Drew Brees to produce. It will also help the defense by keeping them off the field for longer periods of time. An effective, grinding running game instead of an incomplete pass will give the defense the time it needs to make adjustments, not to mention catch its breath.
It’s easy to pigeonhole the Saints as a passing team, which is understandable. That all could change in 2013 with a vastly underrated trio of backs.