Through their first five games New Orleans has accumulated just 389-yards on the ground on 126 attempts for a not-spectacular average of 3.1-yards per rush. This same running game has also produced only two touchdowns — one of which by Drew Brees on a broken-play.
So far the Saints and their running game have mostly proven incapable of moving the chains in short yardage situations. Their leading rusher, Pierre Thomas, has no touchdowns from running and is averaging just 2.9-yards per carry. His longest carry thus far is just 11-yards. As a team, New Orleans is averaging just 3.1-yards per carry and 77.8-yards per game.
Luckily, however, the rest of the Saints’ offense is very good and has been able to make up for any deficiencies in the running game. New Orleans is currently No. 2 in terms of total passing yards, No. 4 in passing touchdowns and No. 4 in yards per passing attempt. In place of their deficient running game, however, is a very good use of screen passes and swing passes.
Last week against the Chicago Bears, the Saints executed a ‘Pierre Screen’ in the final minute of the first half that went 25-yards and put New Orleans up 20-7. Most, if not all, Saints fans also remember the Pierre screen from Super Bowl XLIV, as well.
So while a less-than-spectacular running game does somewhat limit what the Saints offense can do, head coach Sean Payton knows how to work around that.
New Orleans’ current holder of longest rush is first year running back Khiry Robinson, who had a 21-yard gain in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3. Robinson has seen limited time this season, but he has compiled 84-yards on 19 attempts and has the highest average rushing yards per attempt among five other backs.
New Orleans trouble running the ball certainly is not a HUGE problem, and this is more nitpicking than anything. I would just like to see the Saints be as versatile as possible, as I think that will give them the best opportunity to succeed.
Robinson is probably not the answer to the Saints’ running woes, but why not give the young back an opportunity against a New England Patriots defense that is No. 24 in rushing yards per game?