Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Jan 2011

Top Two Saints Rushers Go on IR

The Saints have placed Pierre Thomas on IR with an ankle injury; earlier this week, they put Chris Ivory on IR with a foot injury. That means their backfield is down to fullback Heath Evans and the tailback group of Reggie Bush, Julius Jones, DeShawn Wynn, and Joique Bell -- just signed off the Eagles practice squad. If there was ever a time for Reggie Bush to consider being as valuable as people seem to think he is, this is it.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 05 Jan 2011

26 comments, Last at 12 Jan 2011, 10:49am by dryheat


by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 6:15pm

Saints better hope Packer s win that way Saints go to Chicgao and Packker go to Atlanta. Saints stand better chance in chaicago than Atlanta.

by Eddo :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 6:45pm

Actually, I would think it's the opposite, that the Saints have a better chance in Atlanta. They've played the Falcons to two dead heats, and the weather wouldn't be a factor at all.

Of course, the Packers winning would leave open the possibility of the Saints hosting the NFC Championship, so that's a point in your corner, RJ.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 8:31pm

do not think SaINTS will win in Atlanta again
very tough chore to win thrre twice one season

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 9:27pm

The Packers walked into Atlanta and lost by 3 on a FG with 9 seconds left. They dominated the conventional stats, and as I seem to recall in the notes for the weekly DVOA ratings both teams were pretty close there.

Neither team is used to having a running game, both played the Falcons very tight (I have a feeling the Packers would have split a 2 game series just like the Saints did) so I'm not sure it matters either way.

Personally even though I felt the Packers outplayed the Bears in both games (despite going 1-1) I'm actually more worried about them. The first thing Lovie Smith said when he got the job is "We are going to beat the Packers" and I believe he is 8-6 against them. Keep in mind the Packers are 27-15 vs the division since Smith became head coach in 04, over half of those losses have come to the Bears who finished 4, 1, 1, 4, 2, 3, 1 in the division, so it's not the Bears have always been good in those years. (If you are wondering Packers are 6-8 vs Bears, 9-5 vs Vikings, and 12-2 vs Lions in that time)

So no I don't want to have a rubber match vs the Bears this year, and I do want the Packers in the Super Bowl.

by BJR :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 9:44am

"Neither team is used to having a running game"

The Saints were #1 in rushing DVOA last season.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:02am

In 2009 the Saints were #1 and the Packers were #2 in rushing DVOA. In 2008 the Saints were 10th, the Packers were 17th. But what does that have to do with THIS year? GB is 11th, but that has more to do with Aaron Rodgers than the running backs. The Saints are 21st this year. No defensive coordinator has looked at those teams this year and thought "Man those run games need to be stopped."

Both teams have had bad running games THIS YEAR, you know the year we are discussing, and therefor are used to not having a running game, and both have found ways to win 10 or 11 games THIS YEAR, without a running game.

by Eddo :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 11:19am

I'm not sure why you responded to my post with this; I had responded to RJ's post about what the Saints should hope for, and I really believe the Saints would stand a better chance winning in Atlanta than in Chicago.

Though your thoughts from a Packers perspective were interesting and informative. As a Bears fan, the Packers scare me the most, actually. It seems like Rodgers, no matter how well the Bears hold him down for a while, always comes up with some big plays. Whereas they've done pretty well against Brees and Vick in the past.

by Joseph :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 12:59pm

Eddo--As a Saints fan, I totally agree with you. We JUST went to ATL on the Monday nighter, a game we HAD to have (to have a chance to win the division & HFA) and won it--despite a very bad decision by Brees on his first INT, and very bad luck on his 2nd. We TOTALLY shut them down (7 points--their other TD was the INT return), and can do it again. The only problem with this scenario is that (assuming we beat SEA & ATL--and going to ATL means that PHI wins this week) is that we would meet the winner of CHI & PHI at their house for the NFCCG--which is not to this fan's liking. However, if the Pack beats Philly, that means we have to beat CHI in their house (I all too well remember the beating in Jan. 2007) before going to ATL or hosting GB for the NFCCG. Both of those would be played in a dome, and obviously hosting the NFCCG is more desirable than going to ATL--but we do it EVERY year, so it's not like the Saints' players & coaches would encounter something unusual (like the cold in CHI or PHI). So, I don't know which I would want more. I still believe that we need to beat both CHI & ATL to get to the SB again, but in which order? I guess that ATL first--if only for the fact that the PHI/CHI winner would not be rested, whereas going to CHI after their by week means they are rested and ready. (I don't hope for injuries for the other team--but facing CHI without Cutler or PHI with Kolb instead of Vick is much more appealing for obvious reasons. Maybe could I just wish for a badly twisted ankle, or a strained hamstring--nothing serious, just to keep them out so that the Saints can beat them and get back to the SB. Would that be okay with the football gods??)

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 5:59pm

You know, I'm not sure why I put that response there either. I must have horribly misread something to make me think it was Atlanta hoping for GB and not NO.... Yeah, I was a bit off my gourd to say the least. Sorry bout that, appreciate the civil response though. I've got to get caught back up on sleep again or something. :)

by Thok :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 6:23pm

Obviously, it's time for the return of the K-Gun/run and shoot style offense.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 6:41pm

There is no replacement level RB. There is only Saints RB.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 6:54pm

Reggie Bush isn't replacement level, unless you count horizontal DYAR.

by RickD :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 8:52pm

Is there vertical DYAR? Is Reggie Bush a high jumper?

by tuluse :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 9:40pm

Horizontal to the line of scrimmage. It was an April Fools column on FO.

by Bobman :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 1:12pm


by are-tee :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 7:17pm

Hmmm...maybe a Seahawks victory on Saturday isn't so far-fetched.

by Theo :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 8:02pm

Bush is in the position where he shouldn't lose games.
No one expects him to win the game for the Saints, the passing game does that, but all Bush has to do is pick up some first downs in the second half.

by dryheat :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 10:50pm

I'm pretty sure that's the end of Pierre in New Orleans. Which is a shame, because Pierre is a solid New Orleans name. Maybe the Allouettes could use him.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 12:42am

I don't follow the Saints closely, but that would surprise me as he is their most productive back when healthy. He was top 5 in rushing DVOA in 2008 and 2009 (when he lead the league).

by dryheat :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 10:49am

Well, they tried to deal him to New England mid-season for an unnamed cornerback, when Thomas first suffered his ankle injury and its severity was unknown. Apparently after after negotiations had begun, Belichick asked for a mid-round draft pick in addition as insurance in case Thomas couldn't come back effectively, and that killed the deal.

by trill :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:56am

I'm pretty sure they'll re-sign either Thomas or Bush, but not both. Depends on who they can replace, how healthy Ivory is, and whether they can teach him to pass block/catch the ball. I wish they would have drafted Bush's replacement last year, as the draft was thick with those undersized speedy dudes (McCluster, McKnight, Ford, etc).

by Dean :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 11:30am

I'll be very curious to see what Bush's next contract will be. He's been massivly overpaid due to his draft position. He doesn't produce anywhere near the original expectations. Yet he is an integral part of their passing game, and the offense did suffer when he was out.

I kinda get the impression that he believes his own hype, though. He doesn't deserve a second contract comensurate with the first, but he may think he does, and if so it could turn into a very contentious negociation. I do think he's better off staying put, and the Saints are better off re-signing him. But I'm not sure he's humble enough to take the pay cut that would be required. He may have to test the open market and learn the hard way that nobody's going to break the bank for a role player, and by then the Saints may have replaced him.

by trill :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:50am

Saints should be fine against the Seahawks as long as Julius Jones NEVER TOUCHES THE BALL. The game in the dome was closer on the scoreboard than it was in real life; Brees (red zone INT) and Gregg Williams (big blitz on the goal line) saved their DERP for the worst possible times.

Bush hasn't looked too bad on actual between-the-tackles carries this year. It's when they try to get him to the edge that he shows off his mad tapdancing skills.

by sam_acw (not verified) :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 12:20pm

ANyone checked out 2010 in his wikipedia page recently?

by Joseph :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 1:13pm

Remember, the Saints don't need the rushing game like, say, the Chiefs do. They need the THREAT of a decent rushing game. IMO, this is why they had problems in a couple of games when Bush & Thomas were out. Ivory hadn't gained Coach Payton's confidence yet, and Julius Jones & Ladell Betts aren't scaring anybody (if they ever did). So teams could rush 3 or 4, drop 7 or 8, and dare Brees to slowly march the team down the field with short passes. Being Brees, he was somewhat capable--but notice his 22 INT's--he just couldn't do it consistently. In some games he did, but the Saints had a LOT more close/come-from-behind wins than last year. They barely beat MIN, CAR, DAL, CIN, SF, and lost to CLE & ARI. Those are 6 teams that they should have beaten by 2+ scores, and couldn't. (Note: I am not counting the losses to BAL, TB, & ATL, nor the win over ATL--it's rare to blow out a good team, and they obviously quit trying against TB last Sunday.)
The question is--can Bush make some decent gains in the running game, enough to make SEA respect the threat of it? Personally, I would take a statline of 15 carries for 75 yds from Bush this Sat. (as long as it wasn't 1 for 50, plus 14 for 25). And, as mentioned in #16, Julius Jones should NEVER EVER touch the ball, unless he is recovering a ST fumble.

by whodat :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 9:46am

In fairness, some of Bush's receptions function as running plays, sort of like "forward tosses." Of course, if we included those as runs we'd need to add a new statistical category: Losses After Tosses. Bush would win that going away!

Also, Payton is very skilled at integrating him into virtually every running play where Bush is on the field, albeit mainly as a decoy. But that has value, too, insofar as LBs/DBs are forced to spy him (especially if he occupies more than one defender).

Here's a thought: the defense accounts for him not because of Bush's consistency of rushing but because of his potential to break off a long one. That in turn should help the other RB on the field improve his consistency of rushing. To calculate the value/impact of Bush's ability to (rarely) break a long gain on his teammates, take the second derivative of the temporal impact on the approximate average airspeed velocity of a swallow of carrying one coconut across 1,000km. You may neglect air resistance!