What is the Saints Offensive Scheme?


The other day watching a poster call Mark Ingram a bad draft pick because he didn’t fit the Saints scheme got me thinking about what exactly is the Saints offensive scheme?  The more I thought on it the less clear it became; at times the Saints run what looks like the West Coast offense or a variation. 

Then at other times they run what looks like the old Run and Shoot or a variation of that and at other times they seem to use a power run game.  So it got me thinking even more about the offense they run in the Big Easy and the best way I could come up with a comparison was to fall back on some of my own personal experience. 

When I was a student of the Martial Arts and training in Jeet Kune Do on the way to becoming an instructor, one of the key components of that process was learning the philosophies of Bruce Lee.  Two of his philosophies were “Be like Water” and “The Way of No Way”.

“Be Like Water” water has no shape or form yet it also has the ability to take on any shape or form and is one of the most destructive forces of nature. 

When water is poured inside the cup its shape becomes the cup and when water is poured in the teapot its shape becomes the teapot.  The Saints offense is very much like this which has no true shape, so until game time comes around the opposing defensive coordinator finally gets to see finally what form it has taken.

“The Way of No Way” means using no limitations, as with life confrontations you can face an infinite number of variables, so the only way to truly be able to face that is to not have personal limitations that can give your opponent an advantage.  This really applies to the Saints offense as from not only one game to the next but sometimes even one series to the next. 

No one knows what Sean Payton is going to call because he doesn’t limit himself to one single scheme.  Like facing a confrontation in real life the offense faces almost an infinite number of variables facing the opposing defense.  What scheme do they run?  Are they aggressive or bend but don’t break?  Which part of the defense is the strength and which part is the weakness?  How has recent personnel changes affected them? 

Because of Coach Payton’s fluid scheme he always allows himself to be in the best position possible when game planning.  This also allows him versatility when selecting new personnel through the draft or free agency to not have to limit his choices he can simply adjust his game plan to best fit their talents and strengths.

So when asking myself what scheme do the Saints employ the only thing I can come up with is the Saints scheme is best described as the “The Scheme of no Scheme”.


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One Response to “What is the Saints Offensive Scheme?”

  1. Rob says:

    I’ve always thought of the Saints offense as the kitchen sink offense. The old expression is “everything but the kitchen sink”. Payton throws the kitchen sink at defenses, too. Mark Ingram is just another thing he’s going to throw at them. When the Saints are at their best, they are playing up tempo, moving fresh personnel in on every play, changing formations, mixing up their plays, and using anyone and everyone on the field. There is no such thing as a bad fit in the Saints offense. Ingram is a good football player. I’m excited about him.

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