When you think about the New Orleans Saints offense you think of their explosive passing attack. With Drew Brees, one of the best in the game, and the surrounding weapons of Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore and Marques Colston, most don't give their running game much thought. To be honest, all you have to look at is their pass to run ratio during the season to realize that Sean Payton doesn't give it much thought either. But there is a litte diamond in the rough emerging in the Big Easy.
This is nothing new, mind you. The Saints' current regime has been excellent at uncovering undrafted back gems. You look at what Chris Ivory has been able to do, Joique Bell with the Lions, or Pierre Thomas who has remained on the team. Those are all undrafted players brought up by the Saints. Still, if you asked any avid NFL fan to discuss the Saints' back committee system they'd quickly and rightfully name Thomas along with Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram as the main recipients of carries in a platoon system. As the Saints ponder offseason moves and an offensive direction for 2014, though, featuring this year's high potential rookie Khiry Robinson more has to be in the plans.
Pierre Thomas was unable to play in the playoffs due to an injury, and Robinson saw an increased opportunity because of it. It's worth first pointing out that the West Texas A&M product made the 53 man roster to begin with by leading the NFL in rushing for the preseason with 228 yards at 4.7 yards per carry. In fact, he was so impressive on most of his carries in that span that the only thing holding him back from being ahead of the bigger names in the pecking order was ball security issues. During the course of the season the Saints' brass hesitated to fully trust Robinson because of this. He finished his first season with 224 yards rushing at 4.1 yards per carry, but no fumbles. Then the playoffs came.
In two games against the Eagles and Seahawks in bitter cold conditions, the Saints were forced to run the ball and do so without Pierre Thomas. Robinson, spelling the main back Mark Ingram, rewarded the Saints with 8 carries for 45 yards against the Eagles and 13 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. Still no fumbles. That's 102 yards on 21 carries in the playoffs (4.9 yards per carry) and those yards weren't gained by one or two big chunk plays. He was consistently getting tough yards and falling forward. During the broadcast of the second game it was said that Bill Parcells himself likened Robinson to Hall of Famer Curtis Martin and urged Sean Payton to feature him more. High praise to say the least. And for Robinson to play that well against two very good run defenses on the road in the playoffs says a lot about his potential.
So while as long as Drew Brees is around the Saints' offense will always remain a pass heavy unit, don't sleep on this newest wrinkle. Robinson could be turning into one of the budding stars in the league.
@swampwiz The Philly game was in the 20s at kickoff and continued to drop. It was in the high teens at some point. Where are you from? I'm from New Orleans and below FREEZING constitutes "bitter cold". I guess compared to Russian winter or Green Bay it's "not all that cold" but for a team that plays in a Dome and lives in New Orleans, I'd quantify sub freezing temperatures as "bitter cold". Seattle was a bit warmer, but still in the high 30s mostly, and with wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour the wind chill factor made it pretty cold. We're talking semantics. The point of the post is Khiry Robinson is good.
I am from SE LA as well (but I ski a lot, so I know how cold, cold can get), and merely subfreezing is most certainly NOT bitter cold. And as well, I don't care how windy or wet it is, above freezing is even more certainly not bitter. Bitter cold is when even being in full clothing gear, just the exposed face loses enough heat so that one feels cold (and of course there is a high risk of frostbite.)
This may be stating the obvious, but wearing the correct and enough clothes is the key to staying warm in the cold. Most folks in NOLA don't have such warm clothing, and hence feel cold when it is in the 30's. NFL teams - even the tropical or near tropical ones like the Saints, Dolphins, etc. - know how to dress properly. And there is this grease that can be put on the skin that acts like a windbreaker, taking that aspect out. The mid 30's with no wind is nothing.
Another thing to realize is that most NFL fields have an underground heating system to guard against becoming "frozen tundra", and in the situation of no wind especially makes the air above the field (i.e., where the players are) a good bit warmer. You probably noticed for the Eagles game how a lot of Saints players had no thermal clothing outside of the jersey.
There is something to be said for players getting used to dealing with the cold & wet with respect to the ball. In this regard, you are correct that being a dome team in a near tropical climate, the Saints are at a disadvantage - but it should be noted that a lot of players grew up or went to college in cold places, so they know how to handle it (and as well any player encountering it once or twice while a pro.)
As for Robertson being a future great RB, I concur.