The New Orleans Saints‘ season opener against the Atlanta Falcons will likely be a hard-fought contest that ultimately will be won by just a few points or otherwise on the final possession. Like I previously mentioned, of the past eight games these two teams have played since 2009, two games have gone into overtime and six of these games were decided by eight or fewer points.
I would love to say with confidence that the Saints will easily win this one, but the games between these two franchises as of late have been very, very competitive.
With this is mind, I am hoping that New Orleans will utilize the running game more so than they have. It’s no big secret that the Saints can move the ball by passing. Coming off of two consecutive seasons of 5,000 passing yards or more, quarterback Drew Brees has no issues behind center and does a great job of reading defenses, stepping up in the pocket and delivering smart, well-thrown balls to any number of receivers he chooses.
I am hoping that Sean Payton‘s return following his one-year suspension from the Bounty Gate scandal will help New Orleans refocus on the importance of the running game, and how the running game can compliment the passing game and vice versa.
In 2009, the season that New Orleans made their first and only Super Bowl appearance, the Saints ran for a total 2,106 yards. The following season, New Orleans only ran for 1,519 yards while last season they ran for only 1,577 yards.
It was mentioned earlier in their preseason that the Saints are looking to focus more on the running game, particularly the outside zone running. I was happy to hear this as New Orleans definitely has no shortage of talent amongst their running backs. Between Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and a now healthy and experienced Mark Ingram, New Orleans could be poised for a big year running the ball.
Additionally, the Saints decided to keep not just one young back on their running back depth chart, but two — Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet.
Keeping a fourth and fifth running back signals to me that Payton not only wants to get these younger guys experience and reps, but that he also wants to be deeper than normal because of an increased load that the running backs are likely to see this season.
This should come as good news, Saints fans. A bigger workload for the running backs and refocusing on being able to move the ball on the ground will relieve pressure on both the receivers and Brees. Additionally, moving the chains by running eats up more clock time, and will not allow opposing offenses as much of an opportunity to score and will also help the defense out as well.