This was not what the Saints were expecting when they traded a future first-round pick to get running back Mark Ingram.
Then again, this wasn’t what Ingram was expecting either.
The Saints haven’t found much of a role for Ingram, who has rushed 32 times for 90 yards this season. That 2.8 yards per attempt average is second-lowest in the league.
But they also have him pigeonholed as a short-yardage back, working him with fullbacks and tight ends and what most people call a base offense. Other chances, such as when they spread the field and run at nickel defenses, aren’t available to him.
“Yeah, I mean possibly. There’s only one way to find out,” Ingram said, via Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “But there’s lots of great guys on this team that need to have the ball, that need to have touches. There’s only one football.
“So I’m not the complaining type, I’m not a whining type. My No. 1 goal is to come in here and get better every day and help this team win games on Sundays. We have a lot of great guys, [Darren] Sproles, Pierre [Thomas], the receivers, the tight ends. We have a lot of guys to spread the ball around to, so I don’t complain.”
Of course, the failures aren’t just with Ingram, either. Over the past two games, 28 of their 37 run plays covered three yards or fewer.
“It’s obviously a problem for us. It’s certainly something we’ve talked about,” Saints right tackle Zach Strief said. “I wish we could say, ‘The line isn’t doing this or the backs aren’t doing this.’ I wish I could say that, because it’s easier to fix. But it’s been single breakdowns. When the hole’s there we’re missing it, then the next play the hole’s not there. It’s hard to put your finger on.”
Ingram, on the other hand, has been easy to put a finger on, usually not long after he takes the hand-off. The idea that he’s not a quality back doesn’t square with the scouting report, but you wonder why they invested so heavily in him if they didn’t intend him to have a bigger role.