Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saints Nation: Running Back problem a good one to have

Between Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Lynell Hamilton - the Saints have 4 running backs who are capable of making plays. Both Bell and Thomas have had knee issues they are still nursing, but after the Jets games the Saints will have a bye week and a chance to be at full strength come week 6 against the New York Giants in the Superdome. The question then begs, who gets how many reps once all four are healthy? Regardless of who has been the guy running the football this year, the Saints have had success.

Check out the numbers thus far:

Mike Bell - 45 carries, 229 yds, 5.1 avg, 1 TD
Reggie Bush - 30 carries, 111 yds, 3.7 avg, 1 TD
Pierre Thomas - 14 carries, 126 yds, 9.0 avg, 2 TD's
Lynell Hamilton - 5 carries, 24 yds, 4.8 avg, 1 TD

Regardless of who the feature guy getting the carries is, the Saints have run the football very well. What's more, they've all excelled in short yardage situations, an area that plagued the Saints severly throughout the 2008 season (especially early in the season). Nice to see they've fixed that problem, at least early on.

I think it's clear at this point that Lynell Hamilton, while showing promising signs of ability last week, is 4th in the pecking order assuming the other 3 players are healthy. Reggie Bush will continue to get reps as a hybrid player in the offense. I don't think it's realistic to think Bush will lose playing time because he's such a game breaker and because the Saints have invested so much money in him. Bush creates major matchup issues for the defense and opens up plays for other players around him. Even when he's not touching the ball, he's a benefit to the offense in that he has to be accounted for. That leaves Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas as the two main candidates to handle the primary rushing duties. With Bush guaranteed to get his snaps as the #2, for Pierre and Bell it's going to be feast or famine most of the season. Each game one guy will be the guy getting the majority of reps, while the other will mostly be on the bench. Bell seemed to have the position all but locked up based on his stellar performance prior to his unfortunate knee injury against the Eagles. That injury should keep him out till the Giants game, most likely, so Pierre Thomas will get the chance to strengthen his case as "the man" this weekend against the Jets. Even at that point, it's hard to imagine Bell will surpass Pierre Thomas based on the game he played against the Eagles. While still not at 100%, Thomas has made it clear he's currently the Saints' best option at running back. All in all, though, the fact that these 4 players are playing at a high level is a good problem for the Saints to have. Take as evidence the fact that Bush, Thomas and Bell have all already been injured at some point this season - and someone else has stepped in each time and performed well. Imagine how dangerous the Saints can be when all 4 of these guys are healthy and they can afford to pick the best one.