“You got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy getting in the endzone.” This is a legendary quote by Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster John Madden. In football, the great John Madden has had many great quotes, but this one reminds me of what is going in New Orleans. The Saints have rattled off seven straight wins and have been nothing short of amazing. Most fans and national media are astonished by the fact the Saints are 7-2 and have essentially “come out of nowhere”. However, do not say this to Drew Brees, who was quoted this week, “we felt like we were always knocking on the door, and we were a few guys away… I don’t plan on leaving New Orleans ever!” The future Hall of Fame Quarterback has had an easier path this season, and with the Brees contract coming up, let’s look at the three key pieces to why the Saints have turned things around and has made life easier for Brees.
The last two seasons the New Orleans Saints have gone 7-9 and have been one of the leaders in the passing game in the NFL. This year the Saints have taken a different approach and it starts upfront with one of the league’s best rushing attacks. Over the past few seasons the Saints have spent two first round picks on the offensive line in Andrus Peat, and this year with Ryan Ramczyk. Peat had his share of struggles in the beginning when being drafted to New Orleans, having to play multiple positions as a rookie. Peat has found a home now at left guard and arguably is having a Probowl season with his physical play upfront. Ryan Ramczyk was not worshipped in the beginning by most Saints fans when being drafted with the 32nd overall pick (unlike me who was screaming for the Saints to draft him), but with Probowl Right Tackle Zach Strief going down to injury, Ramczyk was a great addition. We should also mention the offensive line is only giving up 16% of pressures and has given up the fewest sacks in the league this year so far being led by Center, Max Unger.
The success of the offensive line has helped the emergence of the best one-two combination in the NFL with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, aka “Thunder and Lightening”. Ingram is coming off his best year in the NFL with over 1,000 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. This offseason the Saints brought in two new running backs in future hall of famer Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara. This seems to have helped motivate the former Heisman winner who is turning his game up a notch, and is on pace to have his best season so far. Kamara was a third round pick for the Saints this past season and may have been the biggest find for them. Fans, and people around the league remember Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush, and Pierre Thomas in the Saints prolific attacks over the years. However, Kamara may be a mixture of all three put into one running back with his “do it all” mind set. Kamara is second on the team in rushing with 417 yards (6.5 ypc) and second on the team in receptions with 42. Kamara is quick and explosive, and has a physical running style which has helped the Saints multiple times this season convert first down when desperately needed. Just this past week against the Buffalo Bills, the Saints ran the ball 24 straight times and both men eclipsed over 100 yards rushing. They were the only two to do so in the entire NFL, and the first time the Saints have had two 100 rushers in a game since 2006.
Lastly, the defense has played lights out and are a top five defense. The worst statistical defense the past couple season, things have changed in New Orleans with the new “swag” they are playing with. The Saints first overall pick this season Marshon Lattimore is getting national attention, and may not only be Rookie Defensive Player of the Year, but the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.