The New Orleans Saints were one of the most active teams this off-season through free agency and trades and while many of the teams moves and decisions have left the Who Dat Nation divided one series of moves that has arguably been met with the most criticism is the acquiring of veteran running back Adrian Peterson, followed by the Draft day trade to acquire rookie running back Alvin Kamara out of Tennessee.
Aside from some fans having issues with Peterson’s character issues or possibly his questionable durability I’m at a loss as to why fans are unfavorable towards this series of moves. For any Saints fan who really watched the games from 2009-2011 this off-season screamed of wanting to get back to the dynamic Payton once possessed of having a 3 headed monster in the back-field that he can constantly switch in and out through his packages to always leave the defense at a disadvantage and trying to adjust on the fly to whomever is in the game at one particular moment
This is an article that could go on for quite a long time breaking down formations and match-ups comparing the possibilities of this year’s Saints offense to that of 2009 or 2011, so I’ll keep it simple and hope that my point can be made without needing to break it down completely. 2009 and 2011 being undebatably the two best years of the franchise there is one thing both seasons have in common. The New Orleans Saints had the 6th ranked rushing attack in the league for both of these years. Another similarity to these teams is how the offense involved 3 separate running backs consistently and effectively.
Allow me to do a quick comparison of how this new 3 headed attack consisting of Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, and Alvin Kamara will work, then think back on the 2009 and 2011 season, then tell me you’re not excited to watch the 2017 Saints take the field. In both the 2009 and 2011 season Pierre Thomas was the team’s feature back, most things were designed around him as he was the most well-rounded back being used in both the passing and running game. Insert the now mature and healthy Mark Ingram into this role who has gotten substantially better in the passing game, especially running the screens and you have your first direct comparison.
The other notable thing about both previously mentioned seasons is that who many would believe to be the “starter” or premiere back in the offense did not have the most carries. It’s no secret that not every running play is expected to be successful as it’s called but the call is still necessary in order to keep the defense honest. Sean Payton doesn’t want his premiere back taking these handoffs and “running his head into a brick wall” when they are so involved throughout the offensive scheme. In 2009 it was Mike Bell as the leading rusher in terms of carries while in 2011 it was a still raw and unpolished Mark Ingram. Sub in an admitted older but still dynamic Adrian Peterson in this role and you can start to see it all coming together. The Saints aren’t asking Adrian Peterson to come in and be a 1,500 yard workhorse that has contributed to his body breaking down the way it has, rather simply be better than Mike Bell or an in-experienced Mark Ingram.
Lastly, the most obvious connection to make is Alvin Kamara being the Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush factor that both teams enjoyed respectively. It’s no secret that Payton loves the use of his “satellite” back and has desperately been looking since letting Sproles walk. Kamara showed the ability to catch the ball well during his tenure at Tennessee, and Payton has talked about Kamara’s explosiveness and “next-level” ability once he’s in open field against linebackers or safeties.
Hopefully any skeptical Saints fans have a better understanding of how the dynamic of these 3 individuals plans to work this season. I’ll follow this article up breaking it down further if Saints fans seem to still not get it, but I’m choosing to have some faith in the Who Dat Nation to remember the dynamic 2011 offense and fill in the blanks with this extremely easy rubric.