Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running backMark Ingram
(22) scores a touchdown past Atlanta Falcons linebackerLaRoy Reynolds
(53) during the fourth quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 45-32. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Despite their prolific passing history, the best Sean Payton offenses have always had underrated, yet effective, running backs. 2016 was no different, as New Orleans finished the year ranked 16th in rushing, but averaged close to 109yds per game.
Amazingly, the Saints had not had a 1,000yd rusher since Deuce McAllister did it in 2006, Brees and Payton’s first year. Mark Ingram broke that barrier this season, with 1,043yards with six touchdowns; and more impressive was his average of over 5yards per carry.
The Saints offense has always relied on their running backs to be good receivers as well, and Ingram continues to improve in this aspect; evidenced by 46 receptions for 319yds and four touchdowns.
Amazingly, the Saints had not had a 1,000yd rusher since Deuce McAllister did it in 2006, Brees and Payton’s first year.
Popular veteran Tim Hightower continues to show the ability to step in for Ingram without the offense missing a beat–finishing with almost 550yds on the ground, 200 more through the air and 5 scores.
Third down specialist Travaris Cadet has the trust of his quarterback, shown in his 40 receptions and 4 touchdowns, and fullback John Kuhn relished in doing all the little things, becoming a goal line threat. Rookie Daniel Lasco did not get many opportunities, after a promising preseason, but the coaching staff is high on his potential.
This position is not considered among the team’s offseason needs, although Payton always brings in a back or two off the “scrap heap”–having success with Hightower with that strategy, along with a late round pick or college free agent (Pierre Thomas, Lasco, and Cadet)
Obviously, the seasons by Brees and Ingram would not have been possible if not for the surprising season had by our next group.