Deuce McAllister all dressed up with nowhere to run

Deuce McAllister all dressed up with nowhere to run

Posted by John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune September 22, 2008 10:35PM

On the field, during a live NFL game, isn’t the time for charity.

No one knows that better than Deuce McAllister, one of the most sensible and centered athletes you’ll find. No one knows better than him that production is the only barometer that should be used, and Deuce, a proud man and athlete, wouldn’t want to be a charity case, even if the opportunity was offered.
But he doesn’t want or deserve to be insulted, either. And if that isn’t what has happened to McAllister this season through the first three games, two of which he has spent on the sideline, it’s a tough sell convincing anyone otherwise.

By all accounts Deuce is healthy after having surgery on both knees last season. By all actions he simply was judged by Coach Sean Payton as not good enough to play for the Saints for more than a handful of plays this season, and if that’s the case, fine, he should have been inactive. It would’ve made a world of sense to sit him, because if there’s trepidation about asking an NFL back to do his job, then he can’t be useful to anyone.

But the other way hasn’t worked for anyone, either. Neither McAllister, nor Payton, nor the Saints have been served by the Saints doing to Deuce what has been done to him so far.

No one has benefited from allowing him to dress for games and then refusing to let him play except for a few downs against Washington.

“Deuce’s playing time is coming,” Payton said Monday. “But at the same time, it has to come at the right time, when I feel like he’s ready.”

Clearly, that time hasn’t occurred during the first three games, when the Saints have run 188 offensive plays, and McAllister has managed just two carries, for 10 yards, despite the myriad situations and opportunities that have occurred during the three games.

Probably, it would’ve been better for Payton to say McAllister was hurt and make him inactive on game days. At least then Deuce wouldn’t have been eligible for duty, wouldn’t have been viewed as a viable option for a team that isn’t having great success running the ball and has bordered on abysmal trying to run it on third-and-1 over its past six quarters.

But if McAllister’s dressed, don’t insult him.

Don’t run him more than 10 times in the first half of a meaningless exhibition game — and none are more meaningless than the final one — and then say three regular-season game plans don’t have room for him, other than a paltry two carries.

Don’t continue stacking DNP-CDs (did not play — coach’s decisions) onto the resume of a player who, before this season, when healthy had never been told by the coach his services weren’t needed.

Don’t get in five third-and-1 situations Sunday against Denver and convert just twice, and into a fourth-and-goal from the 1 against the Broncos and be stopped short, and not expect people to deduce that the most productive rusher in franchise history could have helped on one of those failed conversions, if only as a decoy.

That’s not to say the Saints wouldn’t have lost 29-24 anyway to Washington nine days ago, or that they would have overcome Denver rather than losing 34-32 on Sunday. Maybe, because of blocking breakdowns, no running back on earth gains the yard New Orleans needs on those unsuccessful attempts.

But it’s hard to believe Deuce doesn’t even merit a chance.

Based on the assumption that anyone wearing a uniform is healthy enough to play and contribute, it’s hard to believe he couldn’t have been given one of those seven opportunities (the Saints failed to convert a critical third-and-1 against Washington, too), regardless of whether or not he has practiced goal-line situations that he likely knows like the back of his hand.

Not because of charity, though coaches generally seem to be a lot more charitable when it comes to “their” guys rather than when it comes to guys inherited from previous staffs. (You think that, given a similar health clearance after surgery, Reggie Bush would be standing behind Payton wearing his helmet for almost three games?)

No, Deuce should have been sent to the huddle, because after a stretch of three failures in four third-and-1 attempts — the final one against Washington and two of the first three against Denver — the temptation at least to see what Deuce might be able to do should have been overwhelming. Not to quiet the masses, but to give players the impression that every weapon would be discharged.

Instead, Deuce sits, a loaded weapon.

“He’s healthy,” Payton said. “He just hasn’t played in a while.”

Well, we know why he hasn’t played enough to break a sweat the first three games this season.

Now, if he just isn’t good enough to siphon off a few plays per game from Bush and Pierre Thomas, fine, tell him to leave his pads and cleats in the locker room. Make him inactive, based on the premise that he doesn’t play special teams and simply can’t help.

No one understands the business better than Deuce.

But what’s happening with McAllister now — dressing for games, being held out because he doesn’t fit the game plan — isn’t much more than an insult for a man who has 1,324 career regular-season carries and has been told he’s healthy enough to play.

It’s a slight to be a featured runner against exhibition-game scrubs, in a test to determine your readiness, and then shelved when the real exams begin.

It’s hard to believe that in all the situations that have occurred during three games and 188 offensive plays, Deuce barely has merited a chance.

One Response to “Deuce McAllister all dressed up with nowhere to run”

  1. S. Dietrich says:

    I think Sean Payton is doing Duece, the team and especially the fans an injustice. Seeing Duece on the sidelines sunday after sunday is painful. WE NEED DUECE, DESPARTELY!!!!!! I have always respected Sean Payton’s game decisions week after week since he became our coach. Even when some of his play calling made NO sense at all. But his decision to sideline Duece is causing me to lose ALL respect for him. Duece has a proven record. He seems healthy enough and ready to play, but Payton still hasn’t come to his senses and put him on the field. Was Payton at the game on Sunday in Denver????? Was he awake when we could not even one yard for a first down. Pierre Thomas is a great asset to the team but he is not Duece.

    I’m reminded of our 2006 season. One game from the superbowl. Duece had just returned from knee surgery the season before. I truly believe that was one of his greatest seasons every. Between him and Reggie they took the Saints to great heights. Has Payton forgot that season. Think about it if Payton would only come to his senses and play Deuce, between him and Reggie we could possibly have another winning season.


    LET DUECE PLAY, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!