Deuce McAllister on the Saints Running Backs
Kyle T. Mosley
In New Orleans, it's great to have a recent legendary player to serve as an analyst and broadcaster. The fans trust their opinions and perspective on the game of football. Today, the media heard from the New Orleans Saints leading running back in their franchise's history, Deuce McAllister, on his thoughts about the team and players' preparation for 2020. But, I want to focus on what he said about the team's running backs.
Deuce on how the team handled the running back rotation, especially with Latavius Murray.
"They [the Saints] probably should have used him more. And obviously, I know the game dictates what you can do and what you have to do as far as that is concerned. But, you know, at the end of the day, you have to be able to try to get him the football. And, maybe not just as a runner because we saw him catch the football out of the backfield. Probably more so better than he did in Oakland as well as in Minnesota. So as a receiver. I think he's a viable option, but you going to lean on Alvin for the majority of that those opportunities, but I think also that you can use them in that manner but as a pure runner. You got to figure out a way to get him at least 10 to 12, to 15 touches legitimate touches in a football game," said McAllister.
Listening to McAllister is what many analysts wondered why New Orleans did not keep feeding Murray the football when Kamara returned to the line-up after his leg injury from the Jacksonville Jaguars game. Murray had 146 rushes and gained 637 yards with 34 receptions for 235 yards in 2019. His best game was against Chicago when he supported QB Teddy Bridgewater with 27 rushes for 119 yards and 2 TDs performance. Murray's ability to pound the football was on full display, yet the Saints did not consistently utilize his skill set. The reasons could have been getting him acclimated to Sean Payton's offense, understanding how he is an asset, and not having enough touches for him because of Alvin Kamara.
This season, behind Kamara and Murray, RBs Ty Montgomery, Dwayne Washington, and Tony Jones, Jr. (UDFA) sit behind the two stars. Ty Montgomery was a wide receiver and transformed his game to become a running back. HC Sean Payton and OC Pete Carmichael will have an opportunity to use him and Kamara out of the backfield and pressure opponent's linebacking corps or nickel corners to make faster decisions in coverages. Thus, this will help WRs Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Tre'Quan Smith with open field opportunities. His presence could also help the Saints offense if Kamara were injured since they have a similar skill set.
I had an opportunity to ask Deuce about his thoughts on the running backs behind Kamara and Murray, and this what he said:
"I think they're fine, as far as the backs behind them I mean I know just talking to coach Joel [Thomas - RB Coach], say they're always trying to find, you know, a guy that can come in and fit a role. They're always looking for that, I mean they're always going to be able to find a guy that what's his role, you know what's our vision for him, that's what Sean always talks about as far as a player, what's our vision for him.
And so, you always want to have a guy in a building that may not be on the elite talent level, as far as Alvin is concerned, and Latavius is concerned, but you have somebody that maybe can do a little bit of what they do. And, it doesn't change so much from a philosophy-wise for you from an offensive standpoint. So, the guys that are behind them. As far as those two guys, I really think that they will have a role. And, it'll be interesting. I mean because you gotta, you gotta remember, there's only so many that you can dress. And, there's only so many that you can keep as well. And, so it'll be interesting to see how many two tail backs they do keep, and then how many you know fullbacks they gonna have have on that roster. But, I think they're fine as far as guys that they have behind." Deuce McAllister
Last season, Alvin Kamara felt he was 75% of his full capacity as a running back. Saints RB Joel Thomas confirmed Kamara's injuries were an issue in his video call with media last month. Kamara concluded 2019 with 171 rushes for 797 yards and 5 TD. He caught 81 passes for 533 yards and 1 TD en route to a subpar 2019 campaign for the Saints star running back. In May, I interviewed Dr. Reef (Sharif Tabbah) of the Athletix Rehab and Recovery center about Alvin Kamara and his workout regimen. Kamara has been training at Athletix this offseason to improve his overall conditioning and rehabilitation of the leg. In a nutshell, Tabbah told us to expect a stronger and more dynamic player in Kamara this NFL season.
Deuce McAllister's comments were of confidence in the Saints' running back situation for the upcoming season. He did address a concern for players with injuries and not having a set offseason program to rehabilitate players because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Could injuries to players like Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport "setback" their performances this season as the NFL embark on opening training camps later this month? For sure, by taking notice of Kamara's and Ty Montgomery's workouts, both running backs will serve as problems for opposing defensive coordinators and their defensive units in either the running or passing game.