Ingram-Kamara combo hold key to Saints success against Eagles
The breakdown of the New Orleans Saints Divisional Round Playoff game with the Philadelphia Eagles has been dissected and probed in every way imaginable.
While it is clear that the relative health of the New Orleans offensive line and the play of the secondary are areas to watch, it is the Eagles defense, as a whole, that is the area to watch on the other side.
The 48-7 victory by the Saints offer the Eagles in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Nov. 18 has been well documented. It was a classic beatdown in all phases.
The Saints dominated up front, whipping the Philadelphia defensive front.
While Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is not known for blitzing, he dialed up blitzes on approximately 30-35 percent of the 69 offensive snaps the Saints had. It failed miserably as the Eagles could not get to Drew Brees and he riddled a suspect secondary to the tune of 22 of 30 for 363 yards and four touchdowns.
It was not as though it was just the passing game was the only culprit for the 48 points and 546 yards amassed by the Saints that day.
New Orleans gashed Philadelphia for 173 yards, including 103 yards and two touchdowns by Mark Ingram and 71 yards from Alvin Kamara.
Needless to say, if the Saints run the ball well again, it will likely be curtains for the Philadelphia season. Look for the Eagles to make a concerted effort to shut down the run, even if it means bringing a safety down into the box.
Of course, that exposes the Eagle secondary to Brees.
Tre’Quan Smith had a breakout game with 10 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown in the first matchup. Michael Thomas, a focal point of opposing defenses, had four receptions for 92 yards and a score.
The Eagles must deal with Ted Ginn, Jr., who did not play in the first game. He not only takes the top off of defenses but in the process, draws safety attention when going vertical, enabling Thomas to perhaps attract singular attention, rather than being double covered.
Additionally, Ginn, Jr. created opportunities for Brees in the short passing game as opposing defensive backs must give Ginn, Jr. a cushion, basically conceding seven to 10-yard outs to him.
Then, there is the factor of Ingram and Kamara in the passing game.
Ingram has 21 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. He is the most effective target in the screen game, which has not been as good overall for the Saints as it has been in recent years. Kamara is the alpha dog, the X-factor. He has 81 receptions for 709 yards and four touchdowns.
Pro Football Focus cites the Eagles as being the team which has given up the second most completions to running backs in the NFL this season with 108. Additionally, only four other teams allowed more yards on those receptions.
Pro Football Focus also cites the Eagles inability to stop the run game. The Eagles yielded 3.19 yards per carry after contact, second worst among NFL defenses.
New Orleans running backs, primarily Ingram and Kamara, have avoided 84 tackles on the season, fourth most in the NFL. They are very good players and perhaps the best complimentary duo in the league. Ingram is the power runner while Kamara is the elusive one, though he is capable of powering through tackles as well.
Of course, if you want to run the ball well, your offensive line must be effective and efficient. When healthy, the New Orleans offensive line is top five in the NFL, if not top three. How healthy will they be Sunday?
While Brees gives you confidence in his ability to make good decisions, manage the game and throw accurately, while Thomas remains a great player and primary threat and while Ginn, Jr. could make a difference, the player productivity to watch Sunday is in the backfield. Success for Ingram and Kamara will bring success, in the form of a victory, for New Orleans.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…