Now that Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt has returned from his six-game suspension at the start of the season and gotten a couple of games under his belt, there are some things he wishes had been handled differently in his absence. And one is the use of the deep group of running backs.
In a conference call with the Atlanta media before the Saints’ game with the Falcons, Vitt said that he believes Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram didn’t get involved enough in the offense while he was gone, and he made a point of changing that in the Saints’ Monday night win over the Eagles.
“For the first time this past week, we really dedicated ourselves to finding a role for these guys and [did some] game-planning to their strengths,” Vitt said of Ivory and Ingram. “To be quite frank, they were underutilized early in the season.”
Vitt may not have meant that as a criticism of Aaron Kromer, who ran the show during Vitt’s suspension for the Saints’ bounty program, but it does suggest that he wasn’t totally on board with the way Kromer handled things. And Vitt may be right, especially about Ivory and Ingram: Ivory didn’t play at all in the first seven games of the season, but he had 10 carries for 48 yards on Monday night. And Ingram was averaging just 25 rushing yards a game and had caught only one pass all season heading into Monday night, but he had 54 rushing yards, plus two catches for 23 yards, against the Eagles.
Of course, Monday night was also the first game this season when the Saints didn’t have Darren Sproles, which is a big part of the reason they needed to get Ivory and Ingram more involved. But a couple of weeks after Ivory indicated that he felt underutilized, his coach is now agreeing with that assessment.