We’ve seen it from New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara time and time again. A play that looks like it’s going to pick up just a couple yards ends up in a big gain because of his ability to split around or through tackles. His was no exception. A deep dropback by Drew Brees, play action, with extra blockers looked like it was setting up the future Hall of Fame quarterback to take a shot downfield, he clearly wanted to, but without the option available, he turned to his trusty playmaker who gave would go on to give Brees the big play he was initially looking for.
Alvin Kamara with touchdown No. 2 on the night and boy was it a beauty. pic.twitter.com/4TYFyMIrm3— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) September 28, 2020
At the end of the third quarter with the Saints looking to tie the game up, this play came exactly when New Orleans needed it most.
Most plays have a beginning, middle, and end. The setup, the execution, and the whistle. However, this play gets an extra step since there’s sort of a reset after the original setup. Let’s start there.
This play starts a bit heavy and condensed from the very beginning. Not a bad thing at all, just shows the look of what could be a run play or exactly what it was, a shot play. Tre’Quan Smith can be seen at the top of the offensive line, nearly playing in-line. He was often deployed from this area by New Orleans as an additional blocker. He, and the offset tight end toward the bottom of the photo, Josh Hill, will remain in to keep seven in pass protection.
That, in addition to the deep dropback by Brees indication a play designed to look deep. Which is exactly what we get.
With Smith and Hill remaining in backfield to help block for Brees, allowing time for the play to develop, only two routes head downfield. Marquez Callaway, who originally started at the bottom of the screen, and Emmanuel Sanders are running a deep crossing combination downfield, with a heavy lean to the field side of the play.
Meanwhile, Alvin Kamara leaks out to the opposite side after the play action. From here, it becomes a numbers game along with one key big win for the Saints.
Now that the original intent of the play has broken down, the big win here goes the offensive line and additional blockers. The held for nearly four seconds, which is long in a Saints offense that usually tries to get the ball out as quickly as possible, and allowed Drew Brees the time he needed to watch it all play out before making the right decision and checking down.
Here’s where the numbers game begins, my favorite part.
The Saints keep seven back to block. That leaves only the QB and three players available to run routes. Two go deep, Callaway and Sander, while one goes to the flat, Kamara.
Where the Green Bay Packers fumble this comes down to play design vs. coverage. With the two routes crossing on the right side of the field, the coverage ends up carrying two defensive backs per receiver. This happens because there are no other routes over the middle of the field or in the intermediate area to occupy someone.
Then, because the Packers have four players in deep coverage and sent five after Brees, it leaves only two additional defenders in coverage. One of them is still patrolling the middle of the field in case one of those additional blockers leaks out and another is alone with Alvin Kamara.
Saints kept seven back to block while Green Bay sent five. Saints win.
Saints occupied four defenders with two receivers. In this instance. Saints win.
A Green Bay defender is one-on-one with one of the most dangerous players with the ball in his hands in the NFL. Alvin Kamara Wins.
And Drew Brees knows that. He dumps the ball off to Kamara, who is in position to just make one player miss and get, at worst, a decent gain. If he can make the closing linebacker from the middle of the field miss too, then he’s in business. He does both, and then gets a little help from his friends.
WRs blocking downfield >>>>>>>>>>— Ross Jackson (@RossJacksonNOLA) November 1, 2020
If you’ve followed me long enough, you know how much I enjoy players blocking downfield. In this play not only do we get a wide receiver down there doing the dirty work, we get a tight end as well as a huge play by offensive lineman Erik McCoy.
Now that we’ve seen the setup and reset, let’s look at what happens next, with a keen eye on McCoy coming out of the jumble at the line of scrimmage and turning into a heat-seeking missile.
There’s a part of me that wants to find a super professional way to break this down. But really it’s just about seeing maximum effort from a guy that a play gets behind not allowing himself to get behind the play. The hustle, the want, the camaraderie is contagious. McCoy flies down the field, tight end Josh Hill is right behind him, he ends up meeting with wide receiver Marquez Callaway who came from the opposite side of the field, they get their hands on the final two real threats near the goal line, and Alvin Kamara just cruises through them all breaking a few more tackles along the way.
It’s a thing of beauty, really.
All the while, Erik McCoy is topping out a higher top speed than Alvin Kamara. Not because Kamara is slow, certainly not the case, but because he was patient and allowed the play to continue to develop in front of him. All starting with a quarterback being given time to make the right decision in a play that perfectly manipulated its coverage. This is team culture in a play.
Alvin Kamara gained 57 yards after catch on this 52-yard touchdown, +40 over expected according to our Expected YAC model.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 28, 2020
Kamara never reached a speed faster than 15.28 MPH on the play, while Erik McCoy (#78) reached 16.22 MPH as a lead blocker.#GBvsNO | #Saints pic.twitter.com/wxKFfzUhNK
Which big play would you like to see broken down next? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC , “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RossJacksonNOLA and subscribe to my daily Saints podcast, Locked On Saints and checkout the Locked On Saints YouTube channel.