Everything was lined up for the New Orleans Saints entering the playoffs. They were hosting the Minnesota Vikings on Wild Card weekend hoping to make a Super Bowl run. The Saints ended up scoring just 20 points at home in a loss that knocked them out early. Drew Brees was outplayed by Kirk Cousins, Sean Payton was out-coached by Mike Zimmer, and Alvin Kamara was invisible.
This has been going on all season in New Orleans. Kamara missed two games with an injury but even when healthy, he has not been used like in years past. The dynamic running back did not carry the ball 20 times in a game this season and has not eclipsed 15 carries since Week 5. Kamara finished with 797 rushing yards this season and did not register a 100-yard game.
Against the Vikings, Kamara finished with just seven carries. He added eight catches but had only 55 total yards. New Orleans did no show much of a game plan against Minnesota. Whatever the plan was, Zimmer and the Vikings’ defense were able to knock them off course from the first possession.
The Saints Need to Lean on Kamara
New Orleans won 13 games this season. They used Latavius Murray effectively throughout the regular season but the playoffs are a different animal. In the postseason, teams need to use their best players. Alvin Kamara is one of the top running backs in the league and he was not used enough.
Taysom Hill is another player that has been effective all season. Hill made big play after big play in this game but was not on the field enough. He brings deception to the Saints’ offense. This is an offense built on short screen passes and crossing patterns over the middle. If a defense like Minnesota creates a strong game plan, they can slow the Saints down. That is exactly what happened and Payton did not make any adjustments.
The Saints finished with 17 rushes in the game. Kamara led the team with seven, followed by Murray with five and Hill with four. They did not look as explosive as the regular season. Kamara not being used in the regular season can be justified. It makes sense to want him at 100% for the postseason but it is hard to explain not using one of your best players in the most important game of the season.
Heading into 2020, the Saints need to reevaluate their use of Kamara. It is hard to imagine that they will not go back to using him as the main option in their offense after this loss.