I will be beginning a 10-week series of what I want to see from the 2013 Saints, starting today. These articles will be just random thoughts that I have, and it's going to involve me telling you the initial thought, and then of course, me explaining it.
This week's thought is about the Saints' running backs. Now as far as the running backs go, I absolutely love the depth at the position. With that being said, I'm not convinced the amount of depth is helping us.
We have 4 very capable runners, all who would be effective running backs in the league. The reason I say I'm not convinced that the depth is helping us because having technically 5 running backs on the active roster is a lot. We have Sproles, PT, Ingram, Ivory, and Cadet. Now I say Cadet because he has been on the field a little bit, as a Sproles-y type player before, so I consider him part of our RB core even though he's more of a kick returner.
5 running backs is a lot because not only does it take away carries for the other backs, it also hinders the progress of the younger backs. I think part of the reason Ingram hasn't really lived up to his Alabama greatness in the pros is because of our loaded backfield. He doesn't see the field enough when all 4 of our RBs are healthy, because the Saints do a running back-by-committee system (which sucks for Fantasy, but that's a different topic for another day).
What I want to see in 2013 is a slightly thinned out backfield. I know that's tough when we have so much talent at the position. What we could possibly do is trade Ivory to a RB-needy team for a draft pick and/or player. Ivory has a lot of talent, he's a hard runner, and his cutting ability and his speed are extremely deceptive. If I had to just guess, I could think of several teams off the top of my head that could use this type of running back. I would say that St. Louis, with the uncertainty of Steven Jackson and his contract situation, could use Ivory, maybe as depth. Before the season, I would guess Detroit definitely, but they have former-Saint, Joique Bell that has stepped into that role, so I don't see Ivory going there. Green Bay may be in the market for a hard runner like Ivory. They're always depleted at the RB position, especially now with Cedric Benson's contract, they might would look at Ivory. The Jets would benefit GREATLY from being dealt Ivory.
Other than Ivory, there are changes that I would like to be seen made. I would like to see Sproles be converted to Slot-WR primarily, because I personally think his catching ability would be better for us than his running ability due to all the game-planning against that set of WRs. Cadet is a very fast and shifty kid, and I think he could be beneficial to the Saints in the return game, so put him primarily at returning kicks.
That leaves us with 2 RBs left. Ingram and PT. The true runners, in my opinion. When these guys get the ball, they are absolutely capable of taking it to the house on every play, that's how much I believe in them. And that's not even mentioning their catching abilities which speak for themselves. I love watching them run. They are very hard runners that never give up on the first hit, and that's refreshing to see. If we had these 2 as our "Thunder & Lightning", I think that would be a great RB core. PT is already one of the most underrated players at his position in the league, if you give him more carries, I think he can be a very dangerous player. Same goes for Ingram; I really want to see this dude live up to his hype as a first round pick. I want to see the chip on these guys' shoulders grow into astronomical sizes, and I want to see how much they can wreck, wear down, and just oppose their dominance on the front 7 of any defense.
Your thoughts on how the position should play out?
Lol the Jets! Trade Ivory for Tebow! Oh yeah! Jets will take that deal any day of the week lol!
Who to trade:
Anyway... On the Trade... If you can get a first round pick back for Ingram, I say, Take it! We then have 4 RBs on the roster. If one goes down you still have 3. If you can not get a first round back for Ingram, trade Ivory for a 4th round pick or so. I rather keep Ingram then Ivory, but you have to weigh in how much they are wanted and how much you have to pay them in a year where you have cap problems (btw, I love Cap problems, what a waste it would be if you have 20 million left on your cap every year!?)
Also Ingram catches the ball better then Ivory. Something we will see a LOT more of this year is screens. Brees had 71% completion in 2011 and it was way down in 2012. That is because the screens were not that much part of the game. Payton is back, the screens are back. All RBs except for ivory would be suited, PT would be best.
Sproles his position:
I do not think you should convert Sproles to WR. Let him line up as RB but shift to slot reciever just a few seconds before the snap. That I give you. It will confuse the hell out of the defense and you will have a LB on Sproles and because of the shift Brees can Identify it is man-to-man defense or not. And if it is he will kill the defense.
I might see an opportunity to write my own blog post on this if Andrew will let me.
Too many RBs:
And basically you say having a lot of backs is a good thing? Well we have too much. Ingram is a solo guy. He needs to be as CJ2K and Bush getting lots of reps, like 20+. When he does that he will go probowl definitely. When he gets a few reps and is the short yardage guy, his game sucks. He is an every down back.
@MarijnPessers If you're going to flex Sproles out to WR most of the time anyway, why not just make it official and just move him to WR? I understand what you're saying about it'd confuse the defense and all, but I don't see why you would line him up at RB if you're going to use him as a WR anyway. I don't really like when he runs the ball for a couple reasons: A. He doesn't get the yardage that PT and Ingram get, and B. He falls at the first sign of contact. So I don't understand why you would keep a guy like that at RB when he's clearly better at receiver. Also, I don't understand why you would want to trade Ingram if you believe he can be a pro bowl type RB. That sounds like a player I would want on my team rather than somebody I would have to face in the future with a porous run defense, to say the least.
@AndrewDoyle Ingram is a guy that needs 20+ reps a game. He is great but not for the Saints. Worth a first round pick or maybe more to some team. Not for the Saints. Ivory is a good second to Ingram.
Cut it down to 4.
Cadet sees the field in special teams and returns etc.
Sproles is a 3rd down back / flexed out to a no back set
Ingram / PT main RBs who will power you or screen you or whatever you need them to be.
IF there is an injury .. you can flex Cadet in.
IF there is 2 injures (which is why we have 5 now) you still have 2 rbs that can perform while the hurt ones rest up. If they are season killings.. you get a scrub as a backup.
Reason I say trade Ivory over Ingram is just that, durability. If we do everything I have mentioned, except keep Ivory over Ingram, I'm worried that we would not have much depth at the position, and had to revert back to Sproles. That's not a completely bad thing though, but I just think his catching ability is a much better asset than his running ability.
I actually think Ingram can command more return in a trade and I would consider that. Ivory's main issue is durability, though. I just can't see us thinning out the depth pool at that position and trusting Ivory to last 16 games. So it's a tough call. I'm inclined to keep all four. Having too many good backs is a good problem to have, but I wouldn't be against drafting a back in the 4th/5th round and getting some return in a trade for Ingram.
@SaintsNation I feel the durability wouldn't be an issue if Ivory got more carries. When your body is used to being on the sidelines it's hard to get back in the game. Also you would get more in return for Ingram, that's why I'd trade him. Ivory has too much upside to let another team take advantage of. Would hate to go up against him.