Even though Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram didn’t suit up for the Saints in their first preseason game, most NFL fans know what they can expect from a healthy Adrian Peterson and a healthy Mark Ingram respectively. What fans don’t know, however, is how the Saints will be able to effectively use both backs in the New Orleans offense.
Bleacher Report recently broke down the Biggest Looming Decision for Every NFL Team, and for the New Orleans Saints, it was this very point.
In [Alvin] Kamara, Peterson and Mark Ingram, the Saints have both talent and depth in the backfield. Now, the key is figuring it how best to use it—or even if they can. Over the past several years, the Saints have been one of the pass-wackiest teams in the NFL. Partly that’s because of the presence of that Brees guy at quarterback.
But it’s also been partly a matter of necessity. The Saints have had to try to win shootouts because their defense couldn’t stop anyone. That defense might be a little better in 2017, but it probably won’t be markedly so. And that’s going to make it all the more important to find a run/pass balance that could help control tempo and alleviate some of the pressure on that D. And then stick to it.
The points are valid. Regardless of if the Saints defense steps up, the Saints offense will benefit from a more balanced attack. With Saints’ opponents focusing on the pass, the box will be open for Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara to find running lanes. When opponents are then forced to stack the box to stop the run, Drew Brees will be able to shred opposing secondaries in man-to-man coverage.
Sean Payton needs to have the patience to stick with the run even if early plays are not effective, though. Typically Payton’s problem has been that he gets too frustrated with ineffective running plays and abandons the run by the middle of the game. If Payton and the Saints are able to call running plays, even if the previous run didn’t net a first down, it might pay dividends regardless.
It’s easy to say, though. Now the issue will be if the Saints are actually able to do it.