Saints mailbag: Will C.J. Spiller or Mark Ingram get more touches? _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) sweeps wide against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Answering reader questions about the Saints …

Who has a better chance to make the starting roster: Coleman or Jones? And who’s a better fit — @KcuttaVash

I’m not sure either player will make the starting lineup. I do, however, think both have a good chance of making the 53-man roster.

It looks like Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks and Nick Toon are currently sitting atop the depth chart, with Jones and Coleman coming up behind them. Even if they end up being fourth and fifth on the depth chart, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch passes.

As far as fit goes, both players are “X” receivers. We haven’t gotten a good look at either one since last training camp. I’d be lying to you if I told you I could provide an answer to this part of the question. I’m still trying to learn more about both players.

Will the Saints’ playbook become less predictable? — @MrTweetYoGirl

I think the personnel groupings will be less predictable. The thing with Jimmy Graham is that defenses knew New Orleans was passing when he was on the field. And that’s exactly what happened on 73 percent of his snaps last season.

Of the personnel groups used five or more times by the Saints last season, the only ones that Graham was part of that saw more running plays than passing plays were three-tight end sets. And by nature, that isn’t surprising since you’re expecting run out of those heavy sets.

Of the 10 personnel groupings Graham was most often part of, New Orleans ran 189 passing plays against 38 running plays.

In other words, he was almost an automatic tell. And that’s OK. But I expect the new personnel to be a little less predictable since the coaching staff can get more creative.

A guy like C.J. Spiller can move around the field and catch people off guard. I also think a player like Spiller — who has the ability to run the ball, line up in the slot and split out — will give New Orleans a little more flexibility in its no-huddle offense.

Was signing Cam Jordan a good decision or not and did they overpay and is he worth that kind of money and will he break out? — @CheeseBalls2K

Getting your mileage out of this question, huh? Let’s take this one point at a time.

1. I think signing Cam Jordan to an extension was a good decision. He’s an important piece of this defense and while his year-to-year production, his standing as a solid performer has been. He’s clearly viewed as a building block.

2. Whether or not the Saints overpaid remains to be seen. It’s easy to look at the extension fellow 2011 draft pick Robert Quinn signed during early last season and to say New Orleans overpaid. Quinn is one of the best defensive ends in football and his current deal carries an average annual value around $14 million. Jordan checks in around $12 million (assuming the early numbers are accurate).

The difference between the two players is that Quinn re-signed a year early. He sacrificed some money for security. That’s how things work in sports. So, if Quinn had waited another year and re-signed at the same time as Jordan, the gap would likely be bigger.

Jordan’s the only one who can determine how this deal will look. If he’s the guy he was in 2013, recording double-digit sacks while pressuring the quarterback about 60 times and playing well against the run, it will look good. If not, it might look a little rich.

3. I think the whole front seven is going to look better this year. A solid secondary will buy those guys more time to get after the quarterback.

How important is it for Kenny Vaccaro to have a good year? –@CodyQuillia

Let me hit you with some coach speak: It’s an important for every player on the team to have a good year.

Look, Vaccaro admits that he didn’t play up to his own standards last year. He played through hamstring, ankle and quad injuries. I’m not sure we ever saw him at 100 percent last year, but he stayed on the field. That should count for something.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t buy this narrative that his second season was a complete wash. There were some good moments and very strong performances along the way. Go watch him in the first game against Tampa Bay.

His issues late in the year were more the result of mental lapses. He didn’t set the edge on one big running play, blew his coverage on another. He was caught too often trying to do too much. Vaccaro probably learned from those things and will make the necessary adjustments.

It wasn’t the season he wanted to have. But I still see a guy with a lot of talent who can bounce back pretty easily by cleaning some things up.

Who will touch the ball more next year (hopefully no injuries) between Ingram and Spiller? — @TeeMoneyy11

Great question.

Let’s assume the Saints log 430 carries next year. I’ll give 185 to Mark Ingram, 140 to Spiller, and the rest to the other guys. Those numbers might seem conservative, but 430 carries would put New Orleans right in the middle of the league.

Beyond that, I can already feel people getting mad about the committee approach and hear the future complaints about anyone but Ingram and Spiller logging carries.

But this is how I see it going. While I see an uptick in the running game, I don’t see the Saints suddenly becoming the Houston Texans. And Payton has always gotten all of his backs involved when they are healthy. I expect that to remain true to some degree. If he’s performing well, Khiry Robinson deserves some touches.

With the baseline set, I expect Spiller to end up with more touches. I think he’s going to be a big player in the passing game, working out of the backfield and split out as a receiver.

Look, I’ll be honest, I probably have unreasonable expectations for Spiller. I think he’s going to do big things. I’ve let my mind run wild, envisioning all the different ways a creative coach like Sean Payton could use him.

Going back to the question, I think it will be close, but I’ll give Spiller the edge in touches.

More likely the teams keeps more than four safeties or more than five corners? Seems unlikely they do both. — @Will_Guillory

Early prediction that might look dumb in a few months: Four safeties, six corners. Damian Swann is the sixth corner and he also provides some depth at safety. He logged some snaps there in college and could let the Saints carry an additional cornerback.

It’s going to be a great battle. Some decent players are going to get cut.

What a change from last year.

What roles should we expect for Anthony Spencer? — @WhoDatBoiB_Lee

He was playing ahead of Junior Galette in the base offense early in last week’s organized team activity.

It’s dangerous to put a lot of stock in the depth chart in OTAs, but I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be playing a similar role to Galette.