A boisterous talent is being wasted with the likes of the New Orleans Saints organization. His dynamic and youthful aptness have seen better days -coming from a National Championship team in Alabama and being the Heisman Trophy recipient during his college years, to finding himself splitting carries and game time in the NFL with three other rushers on the New Orleans Saints depth chart. Unfortunately, because the Saints have such power, speed, and awareness stacked in the backfield, Mark Ingram, one of the team’s elite running backs, could be wasting his time down in the bayou.
Ingram was a rising star at Alabama…one of the primetime running backs in not only the SEC, but all over college football. His game was praised by many and his talent was unheard of. He was essentially a steal in the 2011 NFL Draft…being selected 28th overall. By this time however, Ingram came to a team that already had a slew of great rushers in Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and Chris Ivory. It wasn’t before long that Ingram managed to find his spot on the team, but was responsible for splitting carries with his teammates during games, a duty no running back relishes in. Now, Ingram is being outshined by his teammates. Is it time for Ingram to find a new home?
In 2011, Ingram played in ten games, carrying the ball only 122 times for 474 yards…lowly numbers, but what’s expected of a rookie right? In the dismal 2012 season for the Saints, Ingram’s carries increased, but not much, to 156 carries, gaining 602 yards on the ground. It was a much improved year for the NFL sophomore, but the fact still remains that his talents go far beyond those of a running back who should be sharing time in the backfield. Taking a look around the league, Ingram could fit in with a majority of NFL squads looking for increased production in the ground game. A few examples might be the Tennessee Titans (with all they’ve gone through with Chris Johnson this year), the St. Louis Rams (Steven Jackson is losing steam) and quite possibly the Arizona Cardinals (their offense is in shambles). With that said, Ingram could be a hot commodity if teams are interested in trading for him. Then again, maybe Ingram hasn’t proven enough on the field to warrant that kind of attention, and let’s face facts, he’s still got two years left on his contract with New Orleans. Ingram’s current predicament might see him sticking it out with the Saints and their “split time running back scheme.”
Good talent is hard to come by, and the truth could be that New Orleans is trying to keep as many elite rushers as they can…and this might explain why they have such a high powered and well rested offense…that and Drew Brees is the quarterback, but nonetheless, the Saints have a dynamic corps of rushers who are more than capable of getting the job done…this has to count for something.
So what does the future hold for Mr. Ingram? He’s a shining star in the South…yet he may not be the highest on the Saints totem pole. He’s still a valuable asset that the team needs. Ingram will share the limelight yet again next season with Thomas, Sproles and Ivory in the backfield, but who knows, maybe with Sean Payton’s return to the coaching chair…Ingram will see even more playing time in 2013. Ingram’s future in New Orleans may be ticking down…but his future in the NFL certainly is not.
Well the argument is on the table. Is Mark Ingram wasting his time and talent in New Orleans?
Below: A bar chart showing how the Saints utilized their rushing attack through the first ten games of the 2012 season. It appears that Ingram was only a factor in games where the Saints managed to go over at least 100 yards rushing. We’ll see what the future holds for the former Alabama alum.