Mark Ingram knew he’d have to battle last Sunday.
Arizona’s defense is built around its secondary and an ability to stop the run, and New Orleans expected to fight for every yard on the ground.
The Cardinals lived up to the billing. New Orleans picked up just 54 rushing yards and averaged 2.7 yards per carry, numbers the Saints would like to see improve against Tampa Bay.
“We were going against a defensive front that’s very good against the rush, and obviously, 2.7, we’re looking to improve on that,” offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael said.
Ingram and the rest of the offense want the running game to be more effective against Tampa Bay.
“We’ve got to be more efficient, especially on first down, getting more yards so we can continue to call runs and be confident,” Ingram said. “We knew it was going to be tough, bloody yards, but you’ve got to keep improving.”
Ingram carried nine times for 24 yards, but there were signs that the running game will be a weapon for New Orleans this season. In the second quarter and on into the third, Ingram ripped off two or three good carries, fighting his way for extra yardage.
The problem was that the Cardinals responded to those runs by forcing negative runs.
New Orleans often found itself in 2nd-and-long situations, forcing the Saints to try to convert 18 third downs, more than any team in the NFL other than Seattle, and the Seahawks went into overtime.
Rip off a few more big runs, and the Saints won’t have to convert so many third-down situations.
“Any time you have negative runs, it takes away from the positive runs,” Ingram said. “I don’t think the numbers were as bad as they looked.”
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