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Mark Ingram is a bit of a pariah for Saints faithful. In their mind, he's starting to conjure up memories of another former Heisman-winning running back. I happen to think the comparisons to Reggie Bush are unwarranted. If Ingram flops, it will be due to offensive philosophy.
It has to be frustrating if you're a physical specimen like Ingram. He's being used similarly to a scatback. One run here. A swing pass there. Basically, there's no rhythm to speak of at all. Saints fans will point to the effectiveness of former back Chris Ivory in a similar role.
I counter with they are two totally different types of runners.
If you watched Ingram at Alabama you would notice that a good chunk of his yards came as the game went along. He's a physical guy who wears down the defense. Once the defense has physically deteriorated, he uses his vision and agility to break off big gains.
A guy like Chris Ivory was a one-cut-and-go type back. He can be efficient with 10 or less carries. It's kind of like a sixth man in basketball.
Vinnie Johnson, the old sixth man of the Detroit Pistons, was effective with less minutes and never really needed to warm up to drop 20 points. Did that mean he was better than Isiah Thomas? Not in the least bit.
Same theory applies to Ingram.
This doesn't make Ingram an inferior player. It simply makes him different. He needs 15-plus carries to get warmed up. With Sean Payton as coach and Drew Brees as the signal-caller, that won't be happening anytime soon. And that's a shame.
Note: Ingram played well in this game. But he needs more than six touches to fully live up to expectations.