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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Putting Mark Ingram's breakout season into perspective

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 3:30 PM

click to enlarge ingramphilly-720x320.jpg

One of the biggest stories of the New Orleans' Saints 2014 season — aside from the general awful disappointment of the thing as a whole — has been the continuing story of #AngryIngram. 
Above: don't ask. This is just what Saints Twitter does on Sunday afternoons.

But just where does Mark Ingram's 2014 campaign stack up compared to the success of other running backs in recent Saints history? Let's take a look.

In nine games this year, Ingram has run for 767 yards. His total yardage number alone is impressive given the usual production levels of individual running backs under Sean Payton.

Just three times before has a Sean Payton running back rushed for more than 700 yards in a season. In 2010, Chris Ivory ran for 716 yards, providing the Saints' offense a spark as the team rolled to six consecutive wins during the middle of the year; in 2009, Pierre Thomas ran for 793 yards; and in 2006, the only 1000 yard rusher of the era, Deuce McAllister, managed 1057 yards, including four regular season games with 100 or more.

Here's the impressive thing: Ingram is averaging more yards per game than any of them, including McAllister. At 85.2 yards per game, Ingram is on a 1300 yard full-season pace. As it is, he's on track to have over 1000, and, assuming he remains the Saints' primary back even after the imminent return of Khiry Robinson, should surpass McAllister's 2006 total.

You have to go back to the 2003 season to find another Saints running back who has produced yards at a rate as fast or faster than Ingram in 2014. That year, McAllister averaged 102.6 yards per game en route to 1641 total yards rushing and another 516 receiving.

Ingram won't come close to matching McAllister's 2157 yards from scrimmage — he's not the all-around threat in-his-prime Deuce was — but, especially considering the criticism Ingram has faced up until this point of his career, his numbers are still impressive.

And, perhaps surprisingly, Ingram is only 234 yards away from becoming one of the Saints' ten all-time leading rushers. Granted, that would leave him one spot behind former Saint Mario Bates, whom few fans remember fondly, but the players just ahead of Bates are a who's who of franchise legends: names like Galbreath, Muncie, Mayes, Hilliard, and, of course, McAllister, among others.

That company is pretty good, and watching Ingram enter it gives fans one more thing to watch as this weird 2014 season enters its final stretch.

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