CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 07: Chris Ivory of the New Orleans Saints against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 7, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Chris Ivory has played so well the last two weeks there's almost no way the Saints can go back to shelving him on the inactive list again. If nothing else, he's secured his spot in the rotation as a situational runner for the Saints. But why did it take so long for the Saints to plug him in there, especially when Mark Ingram had performed so poorly, and why are the Saints still reluctant to commit to him? Well, turns out it's pretty simple: ball security.
Ivory has struggled with fumbles in the past, never worse than in preseason and training camp this year. The fact of the matter is, this Saints offense simply can't afford turnovers because they have zero margin for error with as bad as the defense has been. That's why the coaching staff largely feels Ivory is a liability right now. Even in the last two games, you can tell his technique scares them, and it should. Why else would only have seen 7 carries when darted 56 yards for the run of the Saints season? He carries the football far too wide and away from his body when making jukes and cuts. He's fortunate to not have fumbled yet, but you know the more reps he sees that it's coming.
Consider these statistics: Darren Sproles, in 1,098 career touches has fumbled 13 times. That's 1.18% of the time. Mark Ingram, in 206 career touches, has fumbled just once. That's 0.49% of the time. Pierre Thomas, in 851 career touches, has fumbled 4 times. That's 0.47% of the time. Then there's Ivory, who is 236 touches has fumbled 4 times. That's 1.7% of the time. So Ivory has a fumble rate about 3.5 times higher than both Thomas and Ingram.
So when you ask yourself why he hasn't been playing, the answer is pretty simple. The Saints don't trust him to be secure with the football like they trust Ingram, Thomas and Sproles. Ultimately, the benefit you may get in yardage from Ivory over any of those three is in theory negligible enough that it's not worth the extra turnovers. While Ivory is a great back, his lack of playing time has less to do with the Saints coaching staff and more to do with his poor ball security. Fix that problem, as there is no more excuses for not playing him.