The New Orleans Saints have everything they want in front of them, all they need to do is take it. Snatch it! Claim it! It’s not going to be easy, but this is the NFL and nothing is ever a given. But when they face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, here’s what is a near given: Should the Saints win, they’ll be all but assured to get into the NFL postseason for the first time in four years. For the first time since 2013, they’ll have a chance to once again chase that elusive second Super Bowl title for Drew Brees, after coming up short in 2010, 2011 and the aforementioned 2013 season.
But first, they’ll have to defeat the reviled Falcons, something they were unable to accomplish two weeks ago on December 7, when they lost to Atlanta in crushing fashion on a game-ending interception in the end zone by Drew Brees, all while trailing by only three points.
That game had all sorts of crazy voodoo going on, but what was surprising is that it was voodoo against the team from New Orleans! Saints rookie sensation Alvin Kamara was lost for the game on the opening drive. The Saints then lost linebacker A.J. Klein, defensive end Trey Hendrickson, safety Kenny Vaccaro and left tackle Terron Armstead, all to injuries during the game. At various points in the game, they also temporarily lost wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Michael Thomas. Meanwhile, starting running back Mark Ingram was hobbled by a toe injury. What in the world was going on that Thursday night? Had Arthur Blank sacrificed a white chicken in the bowels of Mercedes-Benz Stadium before the game?
To make matters worse, the Falcons enjoyed some cool home-cooking from the referees, but I’m never one to blame the referees for a loss: The Saints had several chances to win the game, despite all these issues. The defense couldn’t get off the field when it mattered and the offense showed us one thing: they had become too Alvin Kamara-dependent.
And on Sunday afternoon in the Superdome, that is the one thing that cannot happen. It was clear during the game against the New York Jets this past Sunday that Sean Payton was being cautious with his prized rookie running back, who was coming off the concussion that had him exit the first Falcons contest early. Against New York, the first-year running back played only 32 snaps, just 47% of the total offensive plays. Payton was probably making sure that Kamara is good and ready for his “revenge game” against the Falcons in a few days. But you can bet that the Falcons coaching staff noticed how limited the Saints offense looked and played once Kamara was out of the game two weeks ago. Atlanta is undoubtedly coming into this game with the primary defensive goal of making sure that they don’t lose the game because of the Saints’ most dangerous offensive weapon.
This is where Sean Payton should make good use of all the offensive wizardry he can be known for. Make Alvin Kamara beat the Falcons, but not by giving him the ball or designing plays to him every other snap, but instead by making him a decoy more often than expected. At least until the Falcons have to equally respect the other offensive weapons, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr. (if he plays) and yes even 2017 misfits like Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman.
The Saints are not going to win offensively against Atlanta if they come in with an “Alvin Kamara Gameplan” on Sunday, because the cat is out of the bag. The league knows who to double-team when the Saints are on offense. It’s time for Payton and Brees to adjust to the league’s adjustment. It obviously doesn’t mean not using Kamara at all, it means using him more judiciously and taking advantage of the fact that if defenses focus more on Kamara, then other players are going to be guarded less attentively. Oh, and in Marie Laveau’s name: run the damn ball!
Do you agree that the Saints should be less Kamara-centric?
This poll is closed
Absolutely, spread the wealth, keep the defenses guessing!
Crazy idea!!! Feed him the ball until he falls!
Who else can we trust on offense? Give him more plays!
Play Ingram more actually, he has been just as good with less fanfare
Share the burgers, but always keep the bacon cheeseburger for yourself