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Meet the New Orleans Saints coaches: Joel Thomas

Thomas is entering his seventh season with New Orleans


Joel Thomas enters his seventh season as the New Orleans Saints running backs coach after 15 years of coaching in the college ranks. Since arriving in 2015, the club has led the NFL with 124 rushing touchdowns, including a club-record and league-best 30 in 2020, tied for the sixth-highest total in NFL record books.

In the past four seasons, Thomas has helped his players earn five Pro Bowl selections – Mark Ingram II (2017) and Alvin Kamara(2017-20). He has also 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 6,000 yards from scrimmage and at 55 touchdowns. In total, Thomas' running backs have registered 20 individual 100-yard performances.

In 2020, Thomas oversaw the NFL's sixth-ranked rushing attack as Kamara became the fastest player in franchise history to reach 55 career touchdowns (60 games), only 14 away from becoming the team record holder. As part of the effort, Kamara, selected to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl, shattered the team record and led the NFL with 21 touchdowns, ranking second with 93 first downs and third with a career-best 1,688 yards from scrimmage. In addition to running for a career-high 932 yards on 187 carries (5.0 average), Kamara led NFL running backs in receiving with a team-best and career-high 83 grabs for 756 yards and five touchdowns, as he became only the second Saint to lead the team in rushing and receiving in the same season. Latavius Murray served as a solid complement to Kamara, carrying 146 times for 656 yards (4.5 average) with four touchdowns.

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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