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Meet the New Orleans Saints coaches: Joel Thomas

Thomas is entering his eighth season with New Orleans


Joel Thomas enters his eighth season as the Saints running backs coach after 15 years of coaching in the college ranks. Since arriving in 2015, the club has led the NFL with 136 rushing touchdowns.

In the past five seasons, Thomas has helped his players earn six Pro Bowl selections – Mark Ingram II (2017) and Alvin Kamara (2017-21). He has been the position coach for three seasons of at least 1,500 total yards of scrimmage by Kamara and one by Ingram. Since his debut in 2017, Kamara is the only player in the NFL with at least 7,500 total yards from scrimmage and at least 65 touchdowns. In total, Thomas' running backs have registered 23 100-yard performances since 2015.

In his seventh season with the Saints, Thomas tutored Kamara to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl campaign, as he led the team in rushing and receiving despite missing four games with a knee injury, carrying 240 times for 898 yards with four touchdowns and catching 47 passes for 439 yards and five scores. Kamara had three 100-yard rushing games for the first time and his 102.8 scrimmage yards per game ranked fifth in the NFL. Kamara finished the season with 4,238 career rushing yards, moving into fourth place in club record books. After being re-acquired by the Saints at midseason, Ingram became the franchise's all-time rushing leader (6,267 yards) and only the second player in club history to have 8,000 career yards from scrimmage.

Joel Thomas coaching career

Table inside Article
Team Position Held Years
Purdue (College) Graduate Assistant 2000-01
Louisville (College) Running backs coach 2002-03
Idaho (College) Co-offensive coordinator & running backs coach 2004-05
Purdue (College) Running backs coach 2006-08
Washington (College) Running backs coach 2009-11
Washington (College) Associate head coach for offense & running backs coach 2012
Arkansas (College) Running backs coach 2013-14
New Orleans Saints (NFL) Running backs coach 2015-present

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