Darren Sproles' value to the Saints

Darren Sproles has brought another dimension to the Saints' explosive offense. AP Photo/Stephen Morton

After several years of injury and ineffectiveness, the New Orleans Saints finally ended the Reggie Bush experiment this past offseason by trading him to the Miami Dolphins. The main impetus behind their decision was that Darren Sproles, a running back with a similar receiving and returning skill set, was available on the open market for a considerably lower price tag than what was necessary to retain Bush. The question, of course, is whether or not the move has had its intended effect.

The Saints are currently 7-3 heading into this week's "Monday Night Football" game against the New York Giants. Through 10 games last season, they were also 7-3. With respect to offensive performance, the Saints rank fourth according to Football Outsiders' measure of play-by-play efficiency -- DVOA -- a seven-spot improvement compared to 2010. Similarly, New Orleans has improved from 13th to fourth in pass offense efficiency and from 25th to sixth in run offense efficiency.

However, in a game with so many interacting parts, it's not valid to affix credit or blame for a team's performance based on that of a single player (including a quarterback). Instead, what we can do is to look at how Sproles' performance in the Saints' offense this season compares to Bush's from 2006 to 2010. After all, it's still being run by Sean Payton and quarterbacked by Drew Brees.