Ranking the Running Game Part 11: New Orleans Saints
Part 11 of a 32 part series, a running back position analysis of each franchise. The New Orleans Saints were tied for 2nd place in the NFC South division with a 7-9 record. This is the team that sent shockwaves through the league in 2006, and then turned into one of its biggest underachievers in 2007. New Orleans started the season 0-4 but finished the season strong and were finally eliminated from playoff contention in week 17. Drew Brees has continued to be stellar in leading the Saints & broke the NFL record for completions in a season. Brees passed for 4,423 yards 28 TD’s, and an NFL record-440 completions. Injuries and poor play on defense really set back the Saints in 2007. The Saints lost Deuce McAllister in week 3 with a torn ACL in his left knee. One of the most hyped and talked about draft picks in recent history, Reggie Bush really struggled in his second season and was slowed by a partially torn PCL. To his defense once McAllister went down Bush became a marked man when defenses loaded up to stop him. The Saints wound up averaging just 91.6 yards rushing per game.
New Orleans Saints
Reggie Bush 6’ 0’ 203 lbs. 157 Att. 581 Yards 3.7 YPC Avg. 4 TD’s
Aaron Stecker 5’10” 213 lbs. 115 Att. 448 Yards 3.9 YPC Avg. 5 TD’s
Deuce McAllister 6’ 1” 232 lbs 24 Att. 92 Yards 3.9 YPC Avg.
Pierre Thomas 5’ 11”210 lbs. 52 Att. 252 Yards 4.8 YPC Avg. 1 TD
Antonio Pittman 5’ 11” 207 lbs.
Jamaal Branch 5’ 11” 230 lbs. Rookie Free Agent from Colgate
Chris Barclay 5’ 10” 180 lbs. Rookie free Agent from Wake Forest
When healthy, Deuce McAllister & Reggie Bush can be a dynamic thunder and lightning combination. Aaron Stecker & Pierre Thomas filled in well when Bush missed the final four games with the knee injury. Thomas, an undrafted rookie, opened some eyes when he became the first player in club history to have 100 yards rushing & 100 yards receiving in the same game, doing so in the season finale. He finished the game with 226 total yards that day, the third highest total in franchise history. Jamaal Branch will provide depth for the position. Antonio Pittman was cut, rushed for 139 yards as a Ram. The Saints have a lot of youth at the position & don’t have a need to draft a runner this year. The Saints defense is in need of a major overhaul, specifically their defensive secondary, I hate to put them on blast but this is the group that held the team back. The secondary allowed 15 plays of 40 yards or more, this tied with Baltimore for the highest total in the league. The Saints allowed 54 pass plays of 20-yards or longer, with 12 producing touchdowns. The Saints will draft a CB Leodis McKelvin is a good fit; the Saints need youth in the secondary. New Orleans overpaid on Jason David in 2007 that was consistently burned by opposing receivers in his first season away from the comfort he had with the Colts in the cover-2. The Saints spent a 3rd round pick on CB Usama Young, but he battled injuries and couldn’t crack the starting lineup in an awful secondary. The other CB drafted in the 5th round David Jones didn’t make the team and was picked up by the Bengals. This unit will look a lot different in 2008.The Saints signed LB’s Jonathan Vilma, Dan Morgan this offseason.
The question for the Saints: Can the off-season additions stay healthy and with the players drafted will the group be enough to turn around the defense?
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