C.J. Spiller: New Orleans Saints screen game to be in full effect upon return


While the New Orleans Saints may have not “finished strong” and won the regular season opener on the road in a hostile environment versus the Arizona Cardinals, some bright spots still showed during Sunday’s loss, particularly in the screen game.

Between the heads-up blocking by the revamped offensive line, and the vision, versatility and fight from both Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson, the Saints excelled in the passing game out of the backfield against one of the best, the brightest, and fastest defenses in the National Football  League.

Quarterback Drew Brees found three different backs through the air, totaling 154 yards.  It was heard that Sean Payton and company were going utilize Ingram more that way in 2015, and they did just that on Sunday.  The Pro Bowl RB caught a career-high eight receptions for 98 yards, followed by Robinson (5 REC, 51 YDS) and fullback Austin Johnson (2 REC, 5 YDS).

But the Saints are missing a couple of names from that group.  One being rookie running back Marcus Murphy, and the other being C.J. Spiller, who is currently sidelined after undergoing a minor knee scope a few weeks ago.  Today, we’re going to focus on C.J. Spiller and why this Saints screen game could be better than ever in 2015.

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One of the more hyped up free agent acquisitions this offseason, New Orleans signed Spiller for what is expected to be an all-purpose back type role, similar to how the team utilized Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles. The Saints released Sproles in 2014, and the little man was indeed missed as a versatile pass catcher out of the backfield.

C.J. Spiller, when healthy, has the ability to dominate in the run, pass and return game.  In 2012 with the Buffalo Bills, the former first-round pick (ninth overall in 2010) accumulated 1,244 yards on the ground and 459 through the air, totaling eight touchdowns and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl.

It was reported that Spiller should be good to go Week 2, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  The Saints have what should be an easy matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, so resting him an additional week to make sure he’s 100% seems more realistic.

However, when he does return, opposing defenses better beware.  You saw what Ingram and Robinson were capable of doing against one of the NFL’s most talented defenses.  Imagine what the speedy, versatile and elusive C.J. Spiller can do.

Of course, health will be a concern, but I’m basing this off me assuming there will be no more setbacks.  I’m tired of saying “if healthy.”  You can “if healthy” about anybody — it’s the NFL.

So, “when healthy,” there aren’t many players who are tougher to bring down than C.J. Spiller.  Ingram and Robinson were phenomenal Sunday, but Spiller should be even better.  With his vision and ability in the open field, he could absolutely dominate behind New Orleans’ much-improved O-Line, and that’s what it all falls on — the offensive line (specifically center Max Unger and left tackle Terron Armstead).

There is no definite on when C.J. Spiller will be ready to return to action, but things are looking up in that aspect of the offense (screen game) when he does.  Between Ingram, Robinson, Spiller, Murphy, and excellent blocking along the line, we could be looking at one of the more dangerous backfields in the NFL.

Next: C.J. Spiller ready to go Week 2?

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