Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Big Ten RB? No Thanks.

Ki-Jana Carter, Ron Dayne, Curtis Enis, Maurice Clarett, and T.J. Ducket -- all successful Big-Ten running backs turn busts in the NFL. Perhaps Beanie Wells will be different -- more like Eddie George. But why would we want to gamble on it?

In Payton's offense, we average just over 20 carries per game. In 2009, I think PT gets 12, Bush gets 8, and newly acquired Heath Evans gets 3-4. If we draft Beanie, how many carries are there for him? Does he move PT down to 5 carries a game and Bush down to 5? So he gets at most 10? (Probably not). How much better off are we then on offense? Do we REMAIN the #1 offense in the NFL, but separate from whichever team is 2nd best? Or, are you Beanie lovers just envisioning us controlling the clock late in games (and in that way help the defense)?

We found a hidden gem in PT 2 years ago (the same off-season we spent the 2nd overall pick on Reggie Bush), and drafting Beanie now would not be taking advantage of utilizing the good players that we already have. It's true that the Saints have a situational need at RB -- however, situational needs do not have to be (and should not be) addressed with your most valuable pick (i.e. first round). Core needs do. Our offense is already the best in the NFL. Let me repeat that: OUR OFFENSE WAS THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE LAST YEAR.

It is horribly irresponsible to think that Beanie is the direction we should go at pick # 14. Any indirect (positive) effect that drafting Wells would have on our defense pales in comparison to a direct effect that drafting a defensive player would have. Beanie will not get us over the hump. A better defense will. There will be a good defensive player available at pick #14. It's not my job to know who that guy is -- it's Loomis, Payton, and Williams. Whoever they think that is -- they better pick him.

Sure, some will state that although we had the best STATISTICAL offense last year, it did not look like that on many occasions. At times, we struggled to move the ball consistently and failed to convert several key third downs. Again, this is true -- but don't get lost in those details. The struggles on offense (in particular the running game) was the smallest of many reasons we digressed in 2008.

My point is that we are not losing games because we're not averaging enough points. We're losing games because our opponents are averaging too much. Beanie does little to change that. An impact defensive player will.

I really think all this goes back to "how we lost" close games last year... and it wasn't because we couldn't run the ball (I know, burn me for saying that). It's amazing how many people think that. If our kicker makes two 40-50 yard field goals against Denver and Minnesota, we are 10-6. Or, if our defensive backs and safeties do not let the same WR's (Berrian and Hester) run the only route you cannot let happen at the time it did, we are 10-6. If those two things did not happen, we go to the playoffs and who knows. But I assure you, the "let's draft Beanie talk" would not be as rampant. Sure, we may have won a few if we could run up the middle late in the fourth quarter when a few teams were expecting us to; but we didn't lose those games because we couldn't do that.

Again, the benefit to drafting Beanie -- a more effective inside running game, allowing Reggie to be more of a "factor back" by contributing in the passing game and on special teams, yada yada -- pales in comparison to the benefits earned by taking an impact player at a position of core need (not situational need -- defined by the fact that Beanie Wells would be one of 3 contributing RB's). Ask yourself who deserves to be on the bench more; Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush... or Scott "the ghost" Shanle? Wouldn't you rather that the Saints put themselves in a position to win games in multiple ways (offense, defense, and special teams). Right now, all of their eggs are in one basket (offense). If they draft Beanie, they are just buying more of the same stock. They need to address more fundamental weaknesses prior to further strengthening that which is already strong. They have been adding strong building blocks in the front of their defense (Ellis, Vilma, etc.) It's time the Saints complete the defensive puzzle.

So who should they draft? Brian Cushing? Malcolm Jenkins? Vontae Davis? Peria Jerry? I don't know -- pick the one you like. Just don't take Chris "Beanie" Wells.

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