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Why the Saints could hoist the Lombardi Trophy, Part IV: Running back

Alvin Kamara is the best in football.

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 2022. On to the Saints’ running backs.

To view previous parts, see below:

Part I, Receivers:

Part II, Secondary:

Part III, QB:

Alvin Kamara’s criminal case is set to take place in August, and the case has been relatively silent. Kamara was charged with felony battery assault during Pro Bowl weekend in Las Vegas in February.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recently reported that according to league sources, Kamara could be facing a suspension of a least six games. This was Kamara’s response.

This may be wishful thinking, but I believe that the reports of a six-game suspension are insubstantial, and AK seems to feel a similar way. The case has been quiet from the jump and my guess would be four games, max. The Saints’ schedule isn’t necessarily weak, but the weakest stretch would be the first month or so, and reasonably, they could start off on a winning streak with or without AK. Now, what will matter later in the season...

Alvin Kamara leads the NFL in touchdowns (68) since 2017. He’s done this while missing eight games in that span + splitting touches since he got to the league. That says a lot. He’s a bell cow although the team protects him from too heavy of a workload. The league knows what AK brings to the table, yet he’s still underrated. You’ll get results from him at RB, X, Y, Z, KR, PR, everywhere... before, during and after the catch... in the trenches, outside the numbers, in the red zone... He’s capable of everything you ask.

Defenses seemed to have a frontrunning approach last year, with the endless injuries New Orleans faced, and really keyed in on AK. The lack of a supporting cast limited his opportunities because teams had a “make someone else beat us” approach. Yet, AK was still great given the circumstances. They can’t have that same aggressive approach this year. Because one, Kamara will be great regardless. Two, that’d open up endless opportunities for Mike Thomas, Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry to feast. It also makes things easier than ever for Deonte Harty and Marquez Callaway, viable threats who are probably the best WR4/WR5s you’ll find in the league. Defenses will have to be honest or New Orleans will light it up even more than expected.

The Saints’ offensive line sputtered at times last year but that was mainly due to lack of health, which led to lack of chemistry. The front office and fans should know that this offensive line can do more than enough for New Orleans to flourish in the passing and running game. We should still have the same expectations of excellence from those guys up front and when they perform, AK will make his job look 5x easier than it actually is.

The best seems yet to come and that includes Kamara. The talent New Orleans brings at WR makes his job easier and vice versa. Mark Ingram will be the backup and his usage rate will most likely increase from last year, with a possible Kamara suspension looming. Ingram also seems to be underrated, as I believe he’ll do more than enough carrying the ball. Ingram brings toughness, balance, IQ, and a pedigree that fits perfectly with this team. On top of that, he’s still capable of making guys miss. I fully expect results when his number is called, as he’s still a threat. Pairing the 1-2 punch of Kamara/Ingram with this receiving corps should lead to a methodical, balanced attack... as we’ve been used to for more than a decade.

The offense will always start with AK, as he has a definite case for being the best offensive player or player period, in all of football. The film is self-explanatory. A solid running game + an elite defense are probably the first signs of a championship caliber squad. Kamara is probably entering his peak and don’t be surprised if Ingram sets back the clock, although he’s just 32 with a few good years left in the tank. Dennis Allen can sleep a little better every night knowing he’ll get unwavering consistency from AK and has a player of Mark Ingram’s caliber as a backup plan. Defenses will have a tough time deciding whether to focus on the run or pass, which should make things a little easier for OC Pete Carmichael. And end result... everybody eats.

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