Statistically Speaking: New cast of characters, same dangerous Saints offense in 2015

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) calls a play in huddle against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) calls a play in huddle against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The preseason stories seem more than a little misguided now.

With Jimmy Graham in Seattle, Kenny Stills in Miami and C.J. Spiller in New Orleans, the Saints were expected to dial it back on the pass and crank up a running game that looked promising in 2014 in order to keep one of the NFL’s most consistent offenses rolling.

Turns out the Saints’ passing game was going to be just fine. With the emergence of Willie Snead, the resurgence of Benjamin Watson and a criticism-killing season from Drew Brees, the Saints held steady in terms of production and cut down on momentum-killing turnovers.

New Orleans, as a whole, hit most of the offensive standards that have been set in the Brees-Sean Payton era.

And it ended up being the running game that took a step back, not forward. Despite an impressive — if injury-shortened — season from Mark Ingram and a surprising bounceback from Tim Hightower, New Orleans slipped back to its 2013 form, leaving room for improvement.

Want the proof? The Advocate compiled the Saints’ NFL ranking and numbers in 17 key offensive categories.

SCORING

2013: 10th, 25.9 points per game

2014: 9th, 25.1 ppg

2015: 8th, 25.5 ppg

TOTAL YARDS

2013: 4th, 399.4 yards per game

2014: 1st, 411.4 ypg

2015: 2nd, 403.8 ypg

YARDS PER PLAY

2013: 6th, 5.92 yards per play

2014: 5th, 6.01 ypp

2015: 4th, 5.90 ypp

RUSHING YARDS

2013: 25th, 92.1 yards per game

2014: 13th, 113.6 ypg

2015: 24th, 93.2 ypg

YARDS PER CARRY

2013: 26th, 3.8 yards per carry

2014: 9th, 4.5 ypc

2015: 27th, 3.8 ypc

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

2013: 23rd, 10

2014: t-5th, 16

2015: t-6th, 16

PASSING YARDS

2013: 2nd, 307.4 yards per game

2014: 3rd, 297.8 ypg

2015: 1st, 310.6 ypg

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE

2013: 2nd, 68.5 percent

2014: 1st, 69.2 percent

2015: 2nd, 69.0 percent

YARDS PER ATTEMPT

2013: 5th, 7.55 ypa

2014: 7th, 7.23 ypa

2015: 5th, 7.45 ypa

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

2013: 2nd, 39 TDs

2014: 6th, 33 TDs

2015: 10th, 32 TDs

INTERCEPTIONS

2013: 6th, 1.84 percent of throws

2014: 19th, 2.58 percent

2015: 6th, 1.80 percent

QUARTERBACK RATING

2013: 3rd, 104.5

2014: 6th, 97.0

2015: 6th, 100.6

SACKS ALLOWED

2013: 7th, 6.55 percent of attempts, 37 sacks overall

2014: 6th, 4.55 percent, 30 sacks overall

2015: 5th, 4.80 percent, 32 sacks overall

FIRST DOWNS

2013: 4th, 22.4 per game

2014: 1st, 24.7 per game

2015: 1st, 23.8 per game

THIRD-DOWN PERCENTAGE

2013: 3rd, 43.89 percent

2014: 1st, 48.28 percent

2015: 1st, 47.71 percent

RED-ZONE PERCENTAGE

2013: t-12th, 56.14 percent

2014: 6th, 60 percent

2015: 11th, 60.34 percent

TURNOVERS

2013: t-4th, 19 (12 interceptions, seven fumbles lost)

2014: 28th, 30 (17 interceptions, 13 fumbles lost)

2015: t-11th, 20 (12 interceptions, eight fumbles lost)