The not-so-secret key stat to winning that the Saints must improve next season

Last season, the New Orleans Saints were missing an important ingredient in the recipe to winning football games, and the need to add it this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

In sports, winning typically comes down to a few important things. Sure, there are a ton of ways to get the job done, but more times than not, games are decided by how teams perform with core principles. In football, some of those core principles are protecting the ball, rushing the passer, and being good in the run game on both sides of the ball.

In 2023, the New Orleans Saints weren’t consistently good at running the ball or stopping the run. That’s a big reason why the team finished 9-8 and missed the postseason. Despite having Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams, as well as Taysom Hill, the Saints only averaged 102.5 rushing yards a game. That ranked 21st in the NFL.

Defensively, even with star defenders Cameron Jordan and Demario Davis in the box, New Orleans allowed 119.9 rushing yards a game, ranking them 22nd in the NFL. Considering that New Orleans allowed that many rushing yards a game, and also couldn’t match it offensively, it’s no surprise the Saints were an average football team.

Saints must be better in the run game on both sides of the ball

New Orleans has been at work this offseason, making moves that should change the team’s performance in the run game. Offensively, the Saints hired Klint Kubiak as the team’s new offensive coordinator. Kubiak comes to New Orleans from the San Francisco 49ers, where he was the pass game coordinator. He got to be apart of the offense that helped Christian McCaffrey establish himself as the best running back in the NFL.

Now, Kubiak will work with a similarly talented running back in Alvin Kamara. He should be able to help Kamara have production that is reflective of his talent. The Saints still have work to do to the offensive line, but if that’s figured out, the rushing attack should be better.

Defensively, New Orleans signed Chase Young, who should get after quarterbacks and help against the run. The Saints also added linebackers Willie Gay and Khaleke Hudson. They add depth and competition to a linebacker room that already has Demario Davis and Pete Werner. New Orleans will need to add a couple more defensive linemen in the draft, and the defense will have the chance to be better against the run.

If neither side of the ball can get the run game figured out next season, the Saints will be looking at another mediocre year.