The million dollar question of the week for the Saints media will certainly be about Mark Ingram.
After two consecutive weeks with a costly fumble, Sean Payton benched Mark Ingram. Last week against the Chiefs, Ingram fumbled on a crucial 4th quarter drive in the red zone. This week, his 1st quarter fumble put the Seahawks on the board for 7 of their 17 points.
Tim Hightower got the nod in his place. Hightower struggled to gain much through most of the game, but the Saints stuck with the rush and Hightower ended up topping 100 yards with a respectable 3.9 yards per carry. That’s the first time a Saints RB has reached 100 yards in a game this year, and it’s already turned many Saints fans against Ingram.
Some media outlets had posed the question of a possible Ingram trade even before his benching. No doubt this will raise the debate to new intensity.
I don’t see it happening, and in my opinion, it’d be a mistake. While I don’t doubt that Ingram could be an asset on the trade block, I don’t see Payton abandoning the guy. He’s had faith in him for years, and Ingram has consistently met his expectations.
Ingram is a true three-down back and is statistically much less prone to fumbling than Hightower. He may not have Hightower’s speed, but he’s got better vision, is better in pass protection, and is miles ahead of Hightower as a pass catcher. Hightower is a decent player who deserves his touches, but Ingram is the more complete player.
If you ask me, this benching is meant to be a wake-up call. And Ingram will answer. Expect him back on the field next Sunday against the 49ers.
Finally, for what it’s worth, I think the Saints are more in need of a satellite back. Cadet is adequate, but an upgrade at that position could really open up the offense.