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Meet the 2024 New Orleans Saints coaches: Derrick Foster

Foster is entering his first season with the Saints

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Derrick Foster enters his first season with the New Orleans Saints as running backs coach after the 13-year coaching veteran spent his first three NFL seasons in the same position with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Under the direction of Foster, RB Austin Ekeler totaled 44 regular-season scrimmage touchdowns (20 in 2021, 18 in 2022 and six in 2023), ranking first in the NFL over that span and led the league in his first two seasons. Ekeler added a pair of rushing touchdowns in the 2022 AFC Wild Card Playoff at Jacksonville, making him the seventh player in NFL history to register back-to-back seasons with 20 touchdowns (regular and postseason combined). Ekeler's 228 receptions for 1,805 yards with 14 touchdowns led NFL running backs in catches and receiving yardage over the three-season span under Foster's tutelage, while tying for first in touchdown grabs.

In 2023, despite missing three games with an ankle injury, Ekeler led the Chargers in rushing for the fourth consecutive season with 628 yards and ran for a club-best five touchdowns, adding 51 receptions for 436 yards (8.5 avg.) and one touchdown in the passing game.

Ekeler set single-season career-highs in 2022 with 1,637 total yards from scrimmage, 13 rushing touchdowns, 915 rushing yards and 107 receptions. His 107 catches led all running backs, tied for fifth-most in the NFL overall, and were tied for the second-most by a running back in a single season in NFL history. Ekeler added five touchdown catches, giving him 29 for his career, tying for the most by a running back with a single team in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). He also led the NFL in 2022 with 843 yards after catch. In the Week Five win at Cleveland, Ekeler set a single-game career high with 173 rushing yards, the fourth-best rushing performance in the NFL in 2022. Foster helped coach a Chargers offense that ranked third in net passing yards per game (269.6 avg.) and ninth in total net yards per game (359.3 avg.) in the NFL. Ekeler was one of an NFL-record six players on the team to top 500 receiving yards and three touchdown grabs in the same season. The Los Angeles offense paced the NFL with 112 third down conversions and ranked second with 2,542 yards after catch.

In 2021, Ekeler turned in a career year under Foster's tutelage, as he tied for an NFL high with 20 scrimmage touchdowns, becoming the fourth Charger ever to have a share of the league lead in touchdowns for a season. His 20 scrimmage scores tied for the second-most by any Charger in a single season. The season also marked Ekeler's second with eight receiving touchdowns (2019), joining Pro Football Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk (2000 and 2001 seasons) as the only running backs in the common draft era (since 1967) with multiple seasons of eight-plus touchdown grabs. Ekeler scored nine touchdowns in prime time games, tying Hall of Fame RB Emmitt Smith (1995) for second-most by any player in a single season in NFL history, trailing only Hall of Fame wide WR Randy Moss' 11 in 2007 with New England. Foster's coaching helped the offense rank fourth in the NFL in total offense (390.2 ypg.). The unit scored 181 points in the fourth quarter, the second-most in a single season in NFL history. Los Angeles ranked fifth in the league in third-down efficiency (45.2 pct.) and paced the NFL with 22 fourth-down conversions and seven two-point conversions.

Prior to leading the running backs group for the Bolts, Foster spent three seasons at the University of Iowa (2018-20). Under Foster's direction as running backs coach/offensive recruiting coordinator in 2020, sophomore RB Tyler Goodson was named first-team All-Big Ten by both media and conference coaches after carrying 143 times for 812 yards (5.3 avg.) with seven touchdowns in a an eight-game COVID-abbreviated season. He was the first Hawkeyes running back since 2008 to earn all-conference honors.

Foster joined the Hawkeyes after a two-year stint at Samford University (2016-17), where he served as run game coordinator/running backs coach, helping lead the Bulldogs to two-straight FCS playoff appearances. Prior to his time in Homewood, Ala., Foster coached three seasons at Northwestern State (La.) from 2013-15. After coaching the running backs for the Demons 2013, Foster directed the wide receivers from 2014-15, developing some of the top wideouts in program history. In 2014, eventual NFL pass-catcher Ed Eagan set the program's single-season receptions record with 73 under Foster's tutelage. In a game against McNeese State, Eagan set a program record with 238 receiving yards on a record-tying 13 receptions. Foster also tutored Bryant Mitchell, who went on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and in the CFL.

In the two years following his playing career, Foster broke into the coaching ranks as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee (2012) and Valdosta State University (2011). His focus was to assist the offensive coaching staff, particularly the running backs, and special teams units.

Foster played running back and wide receiver at Southwest Baptist (Mo.). He started 41-of-44 career game appearances at wideout for the Bearcats and finished his career with 2,062 all-purpose yards. The Goshen, Ala. native graduated in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in sports management and went on to earn a master's degree in public administration from Valdosta State in 2013.

Foster and his wife, Bianca, have two children — Cooper and Brielle.

PLAYING CAREER: Southwest Baptist, 2005-10.

COACHING CAREER: Valdosta State, 2011; Tennessee, 2012; Northwestern State (La.), 2013-15; Samford, 2016-17; Iowa, 2018-20; Los Angeles Chargers, 2021-23; New Orleans Saints, 2024-.

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Derrick Foster coaching career

Table inside Article
Team Position Held Years
Valdosta State (College) Wide receivers coach 2011
Tennessee (College) Running backs coach 2012
Northwestern State (LA) (College) Running backs coach 2013
Northwestern State (LA) (College) Wide receivers coach 2014-15
Samford (College) Assistant running backs coach & run game coordinator 2016-17
Iowa (college) Running backs coach 2018-20
Los Angeles Chargers Running backs coach 2021-23
New Orleans Saints Offensive assistant 2024-present

New Orleans Saints players participated in the team's 2024 OTA practices on June 5, 2024 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

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