The New Orleans Saints displayed good balance on offense in their Week 1 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Drew Brees threw 35 passes and completed 26 of them, and he also handed the ball off 29 times. The Saints are always better when they have a balanced offensive attack, but their passing game is clearly their best asset on offense.
However, the Saints’ running game still leaves a little to be desired.
The Saints rushed the ball 29 times, but only managed 79 yards for 2.7 yards per carry. The Saints clearly need to improve their running game, and I think it all comes down to two running backs, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. Ingram has not been a very effective ball carrier since he came to the Saints, and I think it is time to cut his carries and let Thomas take over as the no. 1 running back.
In the Week 1 victory, Ingram carried the ball nine times but only rushed for 11 yards, including a long rush of seven yards. On the other hand, Thomas also carried the ball nine times but rushed for 43 yards. Furthermore, Thomas’ 4.8 yards per carry was four times more than Ingram’s 1.2 yards per carry. I know it is only the first week, but Thomas has proven time and time again that he is a more efficient running back.
The Saints will still split carries with Thomas, Ingram and Darren Sproles, but I think it would be wise for the team to give the majority of the carries to Thomas. Once again, it is only the first game of the season and Ingram still has at least 15 more games to prove himself, but if he does not produce this season, he may not return next season.
The Saints are deep at running back, and letting go of Ingram would not be detrimental to the team. It could actually create more opportunities for Thomas and the other running backs. In the Week 2 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sean Payton should list Thomas as the no. 1 running back and Brees should hand the ball off to him early and often.
Ingram has had many chances to prove himself, while Thomas has been reliable and consistent — and it is time for Thomas to get his chance to start.