The coach I wanted to talk to the most at today's media session/free breakfast at the NFL Owners Meeting in Orlando was Sean Payton. There had been talk that the Saints would change their philosophy on running the ball more and throwing less.
Let's stop right there. Payton told the assembled media on Wednesday that wasn't happening. Obviously the Saints will run more when it's working and when they have a lead, but Payton confirmed that no philosophical change is coming in regards to the run game.
What is also cool is that Payton spoke highly of third-year running back Travaris Cadet as a replacement for Darren Sproles. In fact when first asked about Sproles, Payton said there were "a number of ways" to replace him ... and then focused on only one.
"Cadet is a player who has played in that role," Payton said while mentioning that the offense he's run has found ways to be effective regardless of who's played. "I don't think you ever replace specifically a skill set like Darren's. It's unique and it's different than really our league's seen in a while for a player like his stature. But with regards to his touches, with regards to opportunities, Travaris is a guy that has played and is now going into his third year."
Payton was highly complimentary of Sproles, saying he earned a high grade but found the team going younger and couldn't pass up a draft pick. That's a kind way of saying Sproles was old and made a little too much dough.
"He's got very good ball skills," Payton said of Cadet. "He's a guy that can run the routes in that tree when you talk about a choice route, when you talk about an option. He can play from in the backfield but he can play from extended positions. That doesn't necessarily mean he's a wide receiver, just means he's a running back in space. So I think he's someone that is very comfortable in that role and I think he can run."
Sounds a lot like Sproles, right? I'm thinking Cadet has some good middle, mid-to-late round value. Why not pick up a running back with Sproles-ish potential?! After all, the Saints have had running backs total at least 140 catches in each of the last three seasons, all of which had Sproles involved, and Payton said they're not changing their run philosophy. Seems like a match to me.