Payton to Saints: Put On The Cleats
7 Posted on May 10th, 2013 by Himself
The reason Sean Payton wants his offense to do better running the ball has nothing to do with the alleged deficiencies of the Saints' passing game, and everything to do with a Lombardi.
Quick Out, May 10, 2013
As the offseason progresses, and theory begins to morph into action, the experts are breaking dormancy and starting to creep out of the shadows, scattering their bits of analysis where you can step in them in the morning before you’re fully awake. One issue has to do with the Saints and their run game: seems they want one. At least, Payton wants one, and he’s mandated that it be a lot better this year. The question, though, is why?
First, though, there’s also the question of Chris Ivory. After the drawn-out pantomime dance that finally sent him into exile in New York, people are wondering if the Saints can hold up at running back without Ivory’s contribution of 217 yards. I wish I were the person who invented “child, please,” because then I could respond “child, please” and feel not only indignant but proud. As it is, I can only feel indignant.
Mike Triplett writes that Mark Ingram may be in for his best year yet, because (in part) Chris Ivory is no longer in the mix, “turning a four-way tailback logjam into a three-man rotation.” Logjam? Mike, Ivory was only active for six games last season. For most of the season he was literally a non-factor. He had only 40 carries. He was a minor component of the Saints’ offense, and the reason we felt fine letting him go is that we had no intention of using him more. If Ingram has an outstanding year, it will not be because, finally, he doesn’t have that nefarious Ivory draining stats from him, but because Payton truly makes a serious commitment to the run game—as he did in 2009 and 2011, when we were 13-3.
So that brings us back to the question, why would Payton do such a thing? He’s a notorious passmonger, after all; and his monging of passes has only resulted in record-setting seasons for Drew Brees, and league-leading offenses four years out of six. So why is it so important that we achieve the mythical “balance” that everyone cries out for? (What comes above first-place? Hyperfirst?)
According to Mark Sessler, writing at NFL.com, the reason is that Payton understands Drew won’t be able to shred the league as easily this season, since he has “a thin cast of wideouts.” I’m not making this up. Brees has the same cast of wideouts this year as he had last year, when the Saints were second in the league in total offense, second in total points, and first in passing offense. Oh, wait, no…one exception: Devery Henderson remains unsigned. We’re sure to miss his contribution of 316 yards, especially since his putative replacement, Joseph Morgan, only gained 379 himself. On half the receptions. (Don’t get me wrong: I’ll miss Devery, and I wish him well.)
Plus, there’s the fact that Jimmy Graham will be healthy. And (hopefully) Nick Toon. And there’s Kenny Stills entering the mix. So, yeah: thin. Whatever will Drew do?
Child, please. The Saints are fine at receiver. And Payton isn’t some ignorant, superstitious twit plotting to capture time of possession. As I pointed out months ago, Payton is perfectly aware of the location of the next Super Bowl: in northern New Jersey. In February. To get to the Super Bowl, you can capture a conference championship in the comfort of your own Dome. To win the Super Bowl, you’re going to have to play hard-nosed smash-mouth grind-it-out throwback football under appalling conditions. Probably.
Hey, it’s always possible that the weather that day will be uncharacteristically spring-like and mild. And if that’s the case, what happens? The Saints air it out and win going away. But if it doesn’t, we’re going to have to be able to pound the ball, and you don’t remake yourself into a running team in two weeks. You need an entire season’s worth of practice and momentum to make that work.
Payton’s not a fool. Payton knows this. Payton reads this blog.
So, the real reason the Saints are going to concentrate on rushing this season is that Payton is concentrating on February. It’s not because he has no faith in his personnel; it’s because he understands the entire point of this exercise.