Thomas has brought much needed balance to the Saints Offence. His eye for the best running lane and patience in letting the play develop has helped to ensure Saints drives maintain momentum where once they would have stalled.
As recently as the 2008/09 season the Saints running game struggled to impose itself on most Defences. The rotation of Duece McAllister, Reggie Bush, Aaron Stecker and Thomas was at times ineffectual and at best unreliable forcing the Saints to the air more than they would have liked.
Whilst this turn of events helped Drew Brees set new team passing records it was clearly no basis for a championship winning team. Only toward the second half of last season did Sean Payton finally give Thomas substantial game time and the results have been clear for all to see.
Replacing a legend
When you're replacing a team legend like Duece McAllister you know full well that every tiny mistake is being watched and scrutinised. You have to live with fan and media intrusion for the first time in your life and, at the same time, compete against the ghost of McAllister past. That is a tough ask for any young running back, especially one with the unenviable tagline 'undrafted' hanging around his neck. It was something that held Thomas back at times last season and yet, as we enter week 8 of the NFL season, number 23 is helping to power the Saints running game to 3rd place in the league.
McAllister and Bush sharing game time
Bush, Bell and Thomas - The Time of the Trio?
The combination of Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush in balancing the potent Saints passing attack ensures opposing Defensive Co-ordinators are now left second guessing on field line ups. Thomas and Bell are both capable of breaking runs to the outside whilst grounding out all important inside yardage. This has helped to establish a credible play action game and borne witness to some outstanding deep plays.
As the season continues expect to see more of the same from this excellent trio of backs as they look to keep opposing defences unbalanced and on edge.
With the come back win of the season already under their belts and a Monday Night Football audience against the Falcons coming up, the Saints running game is set for wider acclaim with Thomas leading the charge. Should the Saints go all the way manufacturers of the Pierre Thomas jersey may well consider replacing the number 23 with a giant 'S'.