New Orleans Saints' 2014 Hopes Ride on the Backfield

By William Potter
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the New Orleans Saints have been a “pass first” team for the past few years, and, with a guy like Drew Brees, that’s not really a bad thing. But the best Saints teams have had a running game that, at the very least, makes the defense think a bit.

On paper, the running game is in trouble. The best and most versatile back in years past, Darren Sproles, is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, so the other guys are going to have to step up if the Saints are going to have any chance. If the backfield can’t get things started, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Brees.

It all begins with Mark Ingram. Since being drafted out of Alabama, the Saints have been anxiously waiting for him to become their premier back, but he’s not there yet. He’s shown some promise, but he’ll have to do more if the running game is going to be anything of worth. Ingram is going to get plenty of opportunities, so this could be his year.

Pierre Thomas has been one of the more consistent running backs for the Saints. With Sproles gone, he’ll split the majority of the carries with Ingram and will be the go-to guy for screens out of the backfield. He’s not going to be quite the weapon that Sproles was, but he’s still an athletic guy who can make some big plays in the run game as well as serve as a target for Brees.

Another interesting guy is Khiry Robinson. He averaged 4.1 yards a carry during the regular season and 4.9 during the postseason. He hasn’t gotten many opportunities (his most carries in one game was 13), but he’s shown flashes of talent.

If the Saints’ backfield is able to figure everything out, they’ll give the team an excellent chance to beat out the Carolina Panthers and win the NFC South. But if they can’t, the Saints could be relegated to another subpar season.

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