Check out our black and white look of Saints practice in London on September 28, 2017.
London – It's not a news flash to say that when the New Orleans Saints effectively run the football, they are a different offensive team and, usually, a more successful team overall.
It allows them to dictate tempo. It allows them to control the clock. It allows them to wear down an opponent. It helps keep the defense fresh.
So Sunday's 27-carry, 149-yard showing against Carolina – including a combined two carries for 23 yards by receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Tommylee Lewis – was exactly along the lines of what the Saints wanted and needed after totaling 38 carries, for 141 yards, in the first two games. And it's exactly along the lines of the recipe the Saints would like to repeat, several times, beginning with Sunday's game against the Dolphins at Wembley Stadium.
"I was very encouraged by that," said running back Mark Ingram II, who led the Saints with 14 carries for 56 yards against the Panthers. Ingram leads the team this season with 28 carries for 125 yards. "Our running game, we got moving. We were efficient in the run game – early downs we were efficient – we had some explosive runs and that opened up everything else for our offense.
"Like I've said a number of times, when we run the ball effectively, the sky is the limit for our offense and for our team. So I was very encouraged to see that we had success in the run game and we've got to keep building on that."
Replicating requires that the Saints take an early lead, or stay close on the scoreboard. And trying to replicate it doesn't offend the offensive line one bit.
The Saints continued their preparations for their Week 4 matchup against the Dolphins in London.
"We go into every game with a good plan (for the running game) and that one was unique in itself," center Max Unger said. "Once you kind of get through that and move on, you throw the playbook out and kind of get back at it. It's a new week with a new set of challenges that we have to present. But you gain a little confidence and we'd like to repeat that."
When the Saints were able to repeat it last season, they won.
In six of New Orleans' seven victories, the team had at least 31 rushing attempts and it averaged 34.3 carries for 152.7 yards in those games. The outlier in victory was a 41-38 shootout with Carolina, in which the Saints ran 21 times for 63 yards.
In two games this season, Miami only has allowed 147 rushing yards on 48 attempts.
BAND (ALMOST) BACK TOGETHER:With right tackle Zach Strief appearing ready to rejoin the starting lineup Sunday after missing two games with a knee injury, the Saints are close to having all line starters back. Terron Armstead has been working on a limited basis and could be ready after the bye week.
"We've had quite a few moving pieces here and there but I think it's settling down a little bit," Unger said. "We've had some really good depth that's been able to come in and play well for us."
NEEDED THAT ONE:After season-opening losses to Minnesota and New England, the Saints were a relieved team after winning their first game, at Carolina.
"That was a big morale boost for our team just to know that if we go out there, and we play complementary football – offense, defense, special teams – we can play in this league and we can be a great team in this league," Ingram said. "I think just that proven ability to be able to execute, and for us to go on the road against a tough team and win a game, I think that's a big confidence boost for coming to London and being able to continue to improve, continue to grow and hopefully go back home with another win going into this bye week."