The New Orleans Saints suffered a surprising defeat to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10 by the score of 26-9. While everyone is highlighting how Drew Brees performed, the Saints need to utilize Alvin Kamara much more in the offense.
Before the 2019 season, Kamara had put together two consecutive seasons of producing 1,500 yards from scrimmage and at least 13 total touchdowns. In addition, he had caught 81 receptions in each season and averaged 6.6 yards per touch.
After missing the past two games due to an ankle injury, Kamara was able to return to the offense on Sunday against the Falcons. Despite his return, the offense managed to score only nine points against Atlanta’s 28th scoring defense.
Why and how did this happen? First and foremost, Brees was under duress all game, being sacked six times. The Falcons only had seven sacks all season before Week 10.
Secondly, New Orleans didn’t supply a heavy dosage of Kamara in their offensive game plan. The dual-threat running back finished the game with only 74 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches.
Above all, Sean Payton decided to run his most talented running back only four times despite averaging six yards per attempt. Altogether, New Orleans’ offense combined for 52 rushing yards on 11 attempts.
As lethal as Brees and the passing attack is, the Saints have to be able to utilize their running game too. Becoming one-dimensional can cause New Orleans to fall short of their ultimate goal—a Super Bowl.
The team’s loss on Sunday could’ve been an outlier but it still showed what the Saints need to do moving forward. One of the adjustments they need to make is incorporating Kamara more often in their offense.
This season, Kamara has rushed for 397 yards on 90 carries (a career-low 4.4 yards per attempt) and one touchdown on the ground. At the same time, he has 41 receptions for 326 yards and one touchdown through the air.
While his level of play hasn’t been the same, his usage is also down from previous seasons. At this moment, Kamara is on pace for only 262 touches in the offense. That would be 13 fewer touches than he had in 2018.
Even with the ankle injury, there’s no reason why Kamara should only have two touchdowns thus far. Payton will have his work cut out for him to try and get Kamara more involved in Week 11.
The Saints face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11, who boast the No. 1 ranked run defense in the NFL. Provided that, New Orleans has to at least try and get Kamara going early and often. Once he gets into a rhythm, there aren’t many running backs in the NFL who are more dangerous than him.