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The Curious Case of Boston Scott

The Saints only have Alvin Kamara and newcomer Mike Gillislee at running back heading into week 1, but Boston Scott should be in that number.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints shocked some fans when they released running back Jonathan Williams last week; favoring rookie Boston Scott as the back up to Alvin Kamara. Scott’s ability in special teams was most likely a contributor for Williams’s release, but he showed throughout the preseason that he was a capable runner. It’s the reason many of us were even more shocked by his release. Hopefully, his release was just temporary—possibly due to an injury to Andrus Peat—and he can land on the practice squad where we can see him eventually in Sean Payton’s offense.

Scott has the vision, burst, and power needed to be capable of running the multiple blocking schemes the Saints use. Deuce Windham gives a great explanation of the different schemes here. We’ll look at some of the plays that showcased his abilities in the preseason.

The first run play is a typical zone blocking scheme to the left. The offensive line will move in unison towards the sideline and attempt to open multiple creases. The running back must possess the vision to see where the open crease is, make a cut, and hit the hole. Scott shows all three here. As he receives the handoff his eyes are looking at the line of scrimmage. He sees the outside linebacker seal the edge and the defensive tackle getting off of the center’s block, so he plants his foot and “bangs” the run to the inside for positive yardage.

Scott’s vision is on display here again with a DUO run called. This is a man blocking scheme that features two combo blocks. The center and guard will block the defensive tackle while the right tackle and tight end will block the defensive end. The play is designed to be an inside run through the right A-gap, but the defensive tackle is able to get to the outside of the center’s block and fill the running lane. Scott sees this, makes a jump cut and hits the D-gap. Not only does he have the vision to make the proper read, he shows off his strength by carrying two tacklers for an extra 2 yards.

Standing at only 5’6” and 203 pounds, some may consider Scott’s size to be a negative. For comparison, Kamara stands at 5’10” and 215 pounds. Those 4 extra inches only account for 12 more pounds, meaning Scott is not as small as he being made out to be. Not that Scott is on the same level, but Maurice Jones-Drew only weighed 207 pounds and stood at 5’7” coming out of college and went on to have a great NFL career.

Due to his height and low center of gravity, he’s able to play lower to the ground than the defenders making it harder to be tackled. Scott will show his strength when the Saints call an ISO run. The fullback Edmunds will lead the way through the A-gap for Scott with man blocking upfront. The defensive tackle is able to get off of the left tackle’s block and clog the running lane. Scott is able to drop his shoulder and break the attempted tackle before accelerating to pick up yards after contact.

While the rookie is not a finished product, and not as skilled as Kamara, he should be able to contribute to this team. His pass protection is still a question mark, as is his effectiveness receiving out of the backfield and out wide. His current skill set should allow him to have a meaningful role in this offense.