The Vikings are without their best running back, but so are the Saints. Not exactly a fair trade, but Mark Ingram was off to a good start before being hurt.
All the talk leading up to today’s Vikings-Saints game is going to be about the Vikings not having Adrian Peterson
in their backfield. But New Orleans may have a similar dilemma, even though it isn’t going to get nearly the publicity.
When the Saints drafted Mark Ingram
out of Alabama
in the first round of the 2011 draft, the hope was that he would end the revolving door of running backs. Through his first three seasons, Ingram never fully lived up to his hype. He missed 11 games due to injury and, in the 37 games he played, he rushed just 356 times for 1,462 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught just 24 passes for 143 yards and no TDs.
Those averages per year come out to 119 carries for 487 yards, eight receptions for 48 yards and four touchdowns.
Through the first two games of this season, he had rushed 24 times for 143 yards, caught four passes for 22 yards and scored three touchdowns. While it was unlikely he could maintain that scoring pace, his numbers over a full season would have extrapolated out to 192 carries for 1,144 yards, catching 32 passes for 172 yards and 24 touchdowns. Ingram was playing like a man in a contract year looking to prove his worth – both to the Saints and potentially to other teams if they were willing to pay more.
Unfortunately for the Saints and Ingram, that’s not going to happen. Ingram suffered a broken bone in his hand last week and is expected to miss the next month. While the Saints have always run with a committee approach, they were breaking that trend this year with Ingram.
For most teams, 24 carries in two games isn’t a big deal. Most every team has at least one player with numbers at or above that. Not the Saints. The next two running backs in the pecking order – Pierre Thomas
and Khiry Robinson
– have combined for 24 carries and have averaged 1.5 yards a carry less than Ingram.
Ingram is hopeful to be back by the time the Saints hit their bye week in Week 6, but, just as Peterson has left a void in the Vikings backfield situation, considering the first two weeks of the season and Ingram’s production, New Orleans is hurting at running back in its own way.
VIKINGS-SAINTS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 29th-ranked offense in the NFL (16th rushing, 32nd passing) and the 7th-ranked defense (16th rushing, 8th passing).
The Saints have the 3rd-ranked offense (5th rushing, 6th passing) and the 30th -ranked defense (21st rushing, 32nd passing).
Minnesota is averaging 286 yards a game (167 passing, 119 rushing), while allowing 305 yards a game (194 passing, 111 rushing).
New Orleans is averaging 435 yards a game (278 passing, 157 rushing), while allowing 446 yards a game (324 passing, 122 rushing).
The Vikings are 24th in the league in points scored per game, while the Saints are 31st in points allowed.
On the flip side, New Orleans is second in points scored per game while Minnesota is tied for eight in points allowed per game.
The Vikings are tied for 20th in giveaway/takeaway ratio at minus-2 (four giveaways, two takeaways). The Saints are tied for 25th at minus-3 (four giveaways, one takeaway).
Minnesota is tied for eighth in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 66.7 percent of their red zone possessions (two touchdowns on three possessions). The Saints are seventh at 70 percent (seven TDs on 10 possessions).
The Vikings are tied with Oakland for the fewest red zone offensive possessions. The Saints are tied for first with Buffalo for most offensive red zone possessions.
The Vikings are fifth in defensive red zone efficiency, allowing touchdowns on two of five opponent possessions (40 percent). New Orleans is tied for 26th at 71.4 percent (5 of 7).
The Vikings are 30th in red zone conversions at 30.4 percent (7 of 23), well below the league average of 40.9 percent. The Saints are first in third-down conversions, making good on 15 of 26 opportunities (57.7 percent).
Only Oakland and Jacksonville are worse in third-down conversion offense than the Vikings.
Defensively, the Vikings are sixth on third down, allowing conversions on just 9 of 28 opportunities (32.1 percent). New Orleans is 27th at 48.1 percent (13 of 27).
The Vikings haven’t had or allowed a 300-yard passer or 100-yard receiver so far this season. The Saints have had one 300-yard passing game from Drew Brees and allowed the league-worst 448 passing yards to Matt Ryan. They also have two 100-yard receivers (Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston) and have allowed one 100-yard receiver.
The Saints haven’t had a 100-yard rusher or allowed on. Minnesota has had one of each – a 100-yard game from Cordarrelle Patterson and one 100-yard rusher allowed (Stevan Ridley).
Brees is tied for fifth in pass attempts (82), tied for second in completions (56), tied for sixth in completion percentage (68.3), fifth in yards (570), 19th in average gain per pass (6.95), tied for eighth in touchdown passes (3), tied for 20th in interceptions (2) and 15th in passer rating (90.0).
Matt Cassel is tied for 21st in attempts (61), tied for 26th in completions (36), 30th in completion percentage (59.0), 27th in yards (372), 29th in yards per attempt (6.10), tied for eighth in TD passes (3), tied for 34th in interceptions (4) and 34th in passer rating (65.7).
Brees is 13th in fourth-quarter passer rating at 92.9. Cassel is 23rd with a passer rating of 69.5.
Brees is 18th in third-down passer rating at 90.5. Cassel is 14th with a rating of 93.0.
Ingram was 11th in the league in rushing with 143 yards. Patterson leads the Vikings with 102 yards, which ranks him 25th.
Jimmy Graham is second in the league in receptions with 18. Brandon Cooks is tied for 35th with 10 and Pierre Thomas is tied for 43rd with nine. Three Vikings – Patterson, Kyle Rudolph and Greg Jennings – are tied for the team lead with seven receptions, which ties them all for 64th place.
Graham is fifth in receiving yards with 200, the most for any tight end in the league. Colston is tied for 43rd with 110 yards. Patterson leads the Vikings with 84 yards, which ranked him 67th.
Ingram is tied for third in scoring among non-kickers with 18 points (three touchdowns). Graham is tied for fifth with 12 points (two TDs). No Viking has scored more than one touchdown.
The Saints’ Shayne Graham is 17th in scoring among kickers with 16 points. Blair Walsh is tied for 25th with 11 points.
Thomas Morstead is tied for fourth in touchbacks on kickoffs with nine. Walsh is tied for seventh with eight.
Graham is 14th in yards from scrimmage with 200 (all receiving). Patterson leads the Vikings with 184 yards (102 rushing, 82 receiving), which ranks him 21st in the league.
Jeff Locke is tied for 12th in punting average at 46.5 yards. Morstead is at 43.9 yards.
Morstead is tied for fifth in net punting average (43.4). Locke is 23rd with a 37.5-yard net average.
Of Morstead’s eight punts, only two of them have been returned for just three yards. Nine of Locke’s 12 punts have been returned for 90 yards – a 10-yard average.
Neither the Vikings nor Saints have a punt returner with enough returns to qualify among the league leaders.
Patterson is eighth in kickoff return average of 23.7 yards. Travaris Cadet of the Saints is ninth with a 23.0-yard return average.
Only two interceptions have been returned for touchdowns this season and Harrison Smith has one of them.
Everson Griffen and Tom Johnson are tied for seventh in sacks with two each. As a team, New Orleans has two sacks.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.