Although the New Orleans Saints have been little known for its running backs under the Sean Payton era, perhaps this has more to do with maximizing the skills of Drew Brees than an aversion to having a featured back. In fact, I think Sean Payton has been on a mission to find one.
Running Backs Patrick Sean Payton has Coached Successfully
I bet you didn’t know Sean Payton’s first name is Patrick and that he has successfully coached running backs throughout the years.
Marshall Faulk – Sean Payton began his coaching career in 1988 as an offensive assistant at San Diego State University where he coached Faulk from 1992 to 1993.
Deland McCullough – His next stop along his coaching odyssey as offensive coordinator was at Miami University where he coached McCullough who ran for over 1,100 yards in 1994. In 1995, the feat was not repeated. No, in that year McCullough ran for 1,600 yards.
Robert Holcombe – Sean Payton next stop was at the University of Illinois in 1996 where Robert Holcombe ran for 1,281 yards.
Tiki Barber – The next stint Payton had as an offensive coordinator was with the 2000 New York Giants. Quarterback Kerry Collins had improved from previously ho hum play. But it was the running duo of Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber, aka “Thunder and Lightning” that set the team apart. The running game averaged 256.5 yards per game. The Giants represented the NFC in SuperBowl 35 only to lose to the Baltimore Ravens. It was the Giants only loss in a SuperBowl. Sean Payton’s final years in New York (2001 – 2002) did not progress as well with Kerry Collins as the franchise quarterback but Tikki Barber rushed for 865 and 1,387 respectively in those years.
(Sean Payton left the Giants for the Dallas Cowboys as the quarterbacks coach and was heavily involved in the passing game from 2003 to 2005. He eventually became the Assistant Head Coach in Dallas.)
Deuce McAllister – McAllister ran for 1,057 in Sean Payton’s first year as the New Orleans Saints head coach in 2006.
Mark Ingram – Mark Ingram is the first running back since 2006 to nearly eclipse the 1,000 yard mark.
There have been notable performances through the years by running backs under Sean Payton including Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas who have almost but not quite carried the entire load like Ingram did in the 2014 season. I am not so certain that Sean Payton likes to run a running-back by committee as much as he has attempted to overcome the deficiencies of Reggie Bush as a number one draft choice as well as the numerous injuries which either knocked a running back out of the season or out of a game.