After three straight 7-9 seasons, a period when New Orleans relied mostly on Brees’ golden arm, the Saints rebounded in 2017 with the league’s fifth-ranked running game en route to an 11-5 record.
“The efficiency aspect of it is, I think is, very key being that you know you never know from week to week how it’s going to play out,” Brees said Thursday following the team’s third day of organized team activities. “I mean, listen, I hope we can run the ball as well as we did last year with the complement of Mark [Ingram] and AK [Alvin Kamara] and whoever else might be in the mix because that just adds balance to your offense.”
The team’s success on the ground fell on Ingram and Kamara, both of whom combined to become the first teammate running back duo in NFL history to each record 1,500-plus scrimmage yards in a single season.
The Saints will adjust the running game during the first four games with Ingram serving a suspension. But with Kamara, rookie Boston Scott, Jonathan Williams, Daniel Lasco and Trey Edmunds on the roster, the spotlight clearly falls on Kamara.
Saints coach Sean Payton said during the team’s rookie minicamp that it would be a mistake to increase Kamara’s workload. The electrifying second-year pro, however, embraces whatever role comes his way during Ingram’s absence.
“I trust Coach Payton, so whatever he feels is just, then I’ll rock with it,” Kamara said Thursday. “We got to ball; we got to do what we got to do. Mark’s gone for four games, but we’re going to work him when he gets back. We’re going to keep moving.”
Maintaining an efficient offensive philosophy would greatly benefit the Saints when considering the team’s recent history.
In 2011, the Saints ranked sixth in rushing, first in passing and total offense en route to a 13-3 record. During the Super Bowl-winning season of 2009, the Saints ranked sixth in rushing, fourth in passing and first in total offense.
Brees showed in 2017 that he can still air it out with the best of NFL quarterbacks, pacing a Saints passing game that finished fifth in passing and anchoring the league’s second-best offense.
Whether the Saints can replicate last season’s success between the passing game and a ground attack without Ingram remains to be seen. But Brees fully understands what the offense brings to the table when it is firing on all cylinders.
“I feel like I’ve had, in my going on 13 years here now, that we’ve been in a lot of different roles where there’s times where, hey we’re running the ball well and can be a bit more balanced and just think more efficiency, as opposed to we’ve got to push the ball down the field or else it’s just we’re not going to win,” Brees said. “But, listen, I love balance.”
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