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Why the New Orlean Saints could win it all, Part II: Running backs

You might be surprised what Latavius Murray brings to this team.

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New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Bringing back a series of pieces from the past three years, we’re going to check each position group on the New Orleans Saints and discuss how they improve the Saints’ chances of making a run in 2019. On to the Saints running backs!

To view previous parts, see below:

Part I: Offensive Line

The New Orleans Saints rushed for 2,025 yards as a team in 2018, led primarily by Alvin Kamara (883 yards) and Mark Ingram (645 yards). Kamara added another 709 yards in the air for 18 total touchdowns, and Ingram added 170 yards in the air for 7 total touchdowns.

As great as the Saints running back duo of “Thunder and Lightning” were in 2018, it was due primarily to the greatness of Alvin Kamara. Ingram’s numbers were largely uninspiring, and his absence in the first four games of the season due to a suspension was not the only reason.

In any event, Mark Ingram left the Saints via free agency to join the Baltimore Ravens after the New Orleans Saints opted to sign former Minnesota Vikings RB Latavius Murray.

So here’s why they’re better in 2019:

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

In forecasting the Saints running backs in 2018 and 2019, we have to take emotion out of the equation. We all loved Mark Ingram, but “love” doesn’t always equate to production. Also, it’s important to remind you that we’re looking at 2018 and 2019 in a vacuum - we are not judging Ingram’s body of work in a Saints uniform.

That being said...

In 2018, Mark Ingram averaged 4.7 yards per rush attempt and 8.1 yards per reception. During that same time, Latavius Murray averaged only 4.1 yards per rush and 6.4 yards per reception. It’s important to note, though, that Ingram’s production came behind Pro Football Focus’s 8th best offensive line with an all-time great QB in Drew Brees lobbing him passes, and Murray’s production was behind the NFL’s 29th ranked offensive line protecting him and Kirk Cousins. Putting Murray in the Saints offense and it’s safe to assume his efficiency numbers improve from 2018.

Here are a couple other things to consider:

Comparing Murray to Ingram: Murray is quicker, faster, and stronger, and has less miles on his legs. Add that with continued improvement from Kamara in his third year, and it’s pretty clear why we can be optimistic for an improvement in the Saints running backs in 2019.