Run the ball, possess the ball the path to victory for Saints against Dolphins

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Alvin Kamara
(Photo: William E. Anthony)

It is really pretty simple, nothing new when it comes to the 2021 New Orleans Saints.

Despite missing perhaps in excess of 20 players tonight against the Miami Dolphins, the Saints can find a narrow path to victory. It is the same path taken all season long in the midst of an up-and-down 7-7 season.

For the Saints to win, watch the numbers game closely.

First, New Orleans must exceed 100 yards rushing.

If the Saints make it to 150 yards in that category, the chances of winning are good.

If New Orleans reaches the 200-yard mark, the opportunity to emerge victorious is superb.

Part and parcel of running the football well, the Saints must not ask Ian Book to win the game.

Like Taysom Hill, Book is capable of extending plays and even making plays when the pocket collapses by taking off with the ball as he is mobile.

Not asking the quarterback to win the game has been the case all season long with the other three starting quarterbacks as well.

Jameis Winston was 5-2 as a starter before getting injured, though the fifth win could be credited to Trevor Siemian, who came off the bench to guide New Orleans to victory against Tampa Bay in Caesars Superdome.

In those seven games, Winston threw the ball 35 times in the win at Seattle and threw it 30 times in the win at Washington.

His completion percentage in those two games was 52.3 percent, well below the number you are looking for to win in the NFL.

Winston is only at 59 percent for the season but the Saints won with him, primarily because they ran the ball effectively and because Winston protected the football, tossing 14 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.

New Orleans also won by playing solidly, for the most part, on defense.

Siemian had to throw the ball too much when he started.

In the games in which he went 0-4, Siemian threw the ball 41, 34, 40 and 29 times, either because the Saints were trailing much of the way or because of the lack of an effective run game.

Taysom Hill threw the ball 41 times against Dallas and the Saints lost with his four interceptions proving to be a primary contributor to the defeat.

In wins over the Jets and Buccaneers, Hill threw it just 21 and 27 times.

New Orleans is just 3-2 when rushing for 150 yards or more but it is still the panacea for missing so many key players tonight.

Keep an eye on the rushing attempts as well.

If the Saints get to 35 or more, it could bode well.

It is not just about the yards but about time of possession, always a key stat to observe but even more so tonight with so many players likely missing the game.

Of course, a solid kicking game, as we saw last week with Brett Maher and all season long with Blake Gillikin, would help. Not having superb Pro Bowl gunner J.T. Gray will certainly hurt.

With a lack of quality numbers, the numbers figure to matter more tonight.

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Ken Trahan

CEO/Owner

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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