Saints can crush with the rush, too
Even casual football fans are aware of the New Orleans Saints' prolific passing offense led by Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees. [For views of how that works, see Redskins GameDay.] But the Saints also have an effective running game, one that ranks fifth in the NFL with averages of 150.5 yards per game and 4.7 per carry.
In Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush, New Orleans has several backs capable of making big plays. Thomas leads the Saints with 648 yards, has scored five touchdowns and averages 5.6 yards a rush.
Bell has rushed for 564 yards and four touchdowns and gains 4.4 per rush. Bush's 55-yard run is New Orleans longest gain of the season. He has 277 yards, a 5.0-yard average and shares the team lead in rushing touchdowns with Thomas.
"That is why they are No. 1 [in total offense]. It is not just one-sided," secondary coach Jerry Gray said. "I think a lot of times, like when Reggie [Bush] wasn't there in previous years, they kind of went down in the run game. Nothing against Reggie, but those guys [Thomas and Bell] are very good. Those are the two guys coming down hill.
"They are trying to punish defenders who hit them. The thing we've got to do is you've got to be sound in the run and the pass now. To me, the big thing you've got to do is stop the run; don't let Drew really get in rhythm to throw the football. I think if we can do that we will be a lot better team on Sunday."
The Saints also are fourth in passing. And they average an eye-opening 37 points. The Minnesota Vikings are second in the NFL at 31.1.
When you're playing the Saints, discipline in the key, Gray said.
"To me, you have to be very disciplined," he said. "We have to make sure that Drew is not throwing the ball on time. I think that is where he does a lot of damage. When he can drop back, pass the ball, and get it out of his hands - there is no one better in the league right now. We may be looking at the league MVP.
"You have a guy like that who is making a lot of plays. They are undefeated and they have a lot of confidence because they're making plays and throws that you will see other teams that are losing don't get those catches. Their big wide receivers are going up and taking the ball away from defensive backs."
Wonder what it's going to be like for a dome team to play outdoors tomorrow? The Capital Weather Gang reports that, after today's winter weather advisory (Rain! Snow! Milk, break and toilet paper!), Sunday will be sunny and brisk. Remember, there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriately dressed people.
The view from N'Awlins
More, on Gregg Williams' return to D.C. ... Want to see an interactive snapshot of Drew Brees' season, pass by pass? The Times-Picayune obliges.
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