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Regardless of who was to blame, Mark Ingram, the 2011 1st round pick of the New Orleans Saints, became a 1,000 yard rusher for the Baltimore Ravens. The Saints signed former Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray to be Ingram’s replacement.
Interesting note about new #Saints RB Latavius Murray…— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) March 12, 2019
He is actually just 28 days younger than Mark Ingram but because of a redshirt year in college at UCF & as an IR season as a rookie with the Raiders he has three fewer seasons & 422 fewer carries in the NFL.
Murray went on to set a career-best rushing yards per attempt since his rookie year. Alvin Kamara, on the other hand, set career low marks in yards and touchdowns in 2019. As Pro Football Focus’s Seth Galina pointed out, Kamara seemed to struggle with his explosiveness and elusiveness last season:
And yet we can all see something is off with Alvin. The truth really seems to be with his injury. If you look at his pre and post injury numbers, via Sports Info Solutions, there is a big difference. Kamara had a whopping 31.4% broken tackle rate after Week 6. Since he’s come back from injury, that number drops to 10.6%.
I feel this wide zone run against Atlanta almost perfectly illustrates his lack of explosiveness.
Kamara Wide Zone pic.twitter.com/Z6p3wKg5cX— SETH GALINA'S BURNER ACCOUNT (@GalinaSeth) December 19, 2019
The vision is there. Kamara reads his keys and the winds the ball all the way back but then can’t either explode past the backside defensive end or power through his tackle.
It became clear that Kamara struggled with injury in 2019, and Kamara confirmed that himself, saying he played the 2019 “on one leg.”
Murray and Kamara are both set to return in 2020, and the Saints are also bringing back backup Dwayne Washington and signed fullback Michael Burton to replace the retiring Zach Line. The Saints also signed versatile offensive weapon Ty Montgomery, most prominently known for his time with the Green Bay Packers.
So here’s why they’re better in 2020:
We could end this by saying, “Kamara wasn’t healthy in 2019 and he’s healthy now. The end.”
Kamara should be viewed as a major bounce-back candidate in 2020. As CSC’s Ross Jackson pointed out, “Even Vegas is confident that the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year can return to form, setting his over/under for total touchdowns to 10.5 ahead of the season.”
A healthy Kamara, a returning Murray - who hopefully is utilized more in the offense - and an improved offensive line should spell big things for the New Orleans running game.
That’s not even mentioning the new acquisition of Ty Montgomery. While he could be used as either a running back or wide receiver, his ability to take the field at the same time as Murray or Kamara presents mismatch opportunities for Sean Payton.