Alvin Kamara represents the NFL’s greatest matchup nightmare for defensive coaches. The New Orleans Saints running back can rip off a 20-yard run up the gut or make a linebacker look silly in space as a pass-catcher.
Ahead of Sunday night’s showdown between Tampa Bay and New Orleans, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians knows his staff will have sleepless nights.
“I coached Marshall Faulk, and this guy’s scarier,” Arians said of Kamara, via USA Today’s Saints Wire.
Arians was a quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis in Faulk’s final year with the Colts and knows first-hand how much a dual-threat back like Kamara can aid an offense.
In seven games this year, Kamara has rushed 87 times for 431 yards and four TDs, adding 55 receptions for 556 yards and another three scores. The Saints back is on pace to best Faulk’s single-season record for receiving yards by a running back (1,098) and Christian McCaffrey’s reception record (119) set last year.
Kamara leads all players in scrimmage yards (987) this season. If he keeps that pace, he would be the first player in Saints franchise history to do so in a full season. Kamara is the only player in the NFL with 400-plus rush yards and 500-plus receiving yards this season.
Kamara joined Faulk (2000) as the only two players in the Super Bowl era with 400-plus rush yards and 500-plus receiving yards in their team’s first seven games; Faulk finished with 2,189 scrimmage yards, 26 TD and was named NFL MVP, while Kamara is on pace for 2,256 scrimmage yards and 16 scrimmage TDs.
The Buccaneers have allowed 100-plus scrimmage yards in a game to three opposing RBs just three times over the past two years, two of them have been to Kamara (both came in 2019).
Kamara had 17 touches, 67 scrimmage yards, one rush TD and one receiving TD in Week 1 versus the Buccaneers (his only game without 100-plus scrimmage yards this season).
The Bucs boast one of the best defenses in the NFL, but even star linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David struggle in space with backs like Kamara. With the running back being the key to the Saints offense, how defensive coordinator Todd Bowles game-plans to slow Kamara — perhaps tasking safeties Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield Jr. the job more than normal — will be key in the pivotal NFC South bout.
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