The Saints are coming off their most complete game of the season. It was definitely one of their best games since Saints Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees retired. A big part of that is because Alvin Kamara stepped up as a leader.
Alvin Kamara Proves Why He’s The Face Of The Franchise
About two weeks ago the Saints found themselves sitting at 2-5 after once again beating themselves. The team’s future seemed bleak. Then when the team needed its leader the most Alvin Kamara stepped up. The sixth-year veteran gave a speech after Thursday’s loss to the Cardinals essentially telling the team that they need to be better. Play with more swag and hold each other accountable.
It’s one thing for a coach to yell and talk to the team after a loss. That’s normal. That’s their job. When a player steps up and talks to the team it means more. As a player, you feel more accountable for your mistakes. You feel more responsible for what you do.
“It’s just holding everybody accountable. It’s like ethics, you know? Everybody is accountable to themselves and then to their teammates. And then it’s just operating a certain [way] of self-accountability, policing each other.”
Alvin Kamara was voted a team captain this season for the first time by his peers. All summer and season guys have mentioned that Kamara has always been a leader, now he just has a patch on his jersey. With that patch has come some responsibility for Kamara. In an interview, the running back said that with Drew Brees and Sean Payton no longer on the team he’s begun to fit into his leadership role.
The running back mentioned how during practice the little things would be let go. Things like false starts and offsides would not be addressed during practice. When nobody says anything about it, then not only are the coaches the problem. The players are a part of the problem as well.
Some may ask why should the players be doing the coach’s job. As I mentioned earlier, it means more to the players when their peer and leader steps up. Holds them accountable. Former Saints tackle Jordan Mills responded to a comment asking why Kamara was doing what Dennis Allen should be doing, here is what Mills responded with:
“It’s called being a descendant of the coach. In teams with great players and atmospheres, the head coach doesn’t have to say anything because the players will.”
That’s how Kamara proved why he’s the face of the franchise off the field as a leader. Ten days after that speech, Kamara proved why he’s the face of the franchise on the field.
The running back had his best game of the season and maybe his best game over the past two seasons. Scoring his first touchdown of the season and then added two more to that number. Those three touchdowns included 158 total yards.
The Saints Can Adjust To Their Flaws
There is no question that the Saints have had some issues this season at different times. To start the season it was the fumbles and offensive production. Then the defense became a flaw with their missed tackles and lack of turnovers. What we’ve seen has been an improvement for each of these issues.
The offensive production issues went away once veteran quarterback Andy Dalton took over. The offense in the first four weeks averaged 19 points per game. In the past for weeks the offense has averaged 30 points per game. In the first four weeks of the season, the Saints had six fumbles. Since the Vikings game, the Saints have only had one fumble.
Once the Saints figured out their offense, the defense began to become a weakness. In the first four weeks of the season the defense allowed an average of 24 points per game and in the three weeks after that opposing teams averaged 30 points per game (didn’t include the two pick sixes in the math). Not only did the defense allow more points, but they also began to miss more tackles and allow bigger plays.
In their win over the Raiders, the big plays were not there. As for the missed tackles, it was better but there still needs more improvement. The only difference was when one guy missed a tackle there were two other guys there to make them.
What we’ve seen from the Saints this season is that they can adjust to their flaws. Improve on what’s not working. Make things that are issues, no longer issues.
With Some Swag The Saints Can Surprise
The energy we saw from the Saints in their win over the Raiders was a different kind of energy. Kamara said the team needed to play with more swag and be more energetic. We saw a ton of that.
The defense was aggressive. Alontae Taylor was getting chippy with some wide receivers. The rookie cornerback even stood over Davante Adams starring him down after breaking up a pass. Rookie WR Chris Olave got in defensive backs’ faces after catching a pass for a first down.
The energy and vibes were just different.
This is something we need to see more from the Saints. This win is a nice game to build momentum off of and maybe the Saints go on a hot streak as the 49ers did in 2021. The Saints first need to make this consistent. Kamara knows it and he probably gave us the quote of the year talking about it.
While this was a nice win, it doesn’t mean everything is fixed. The Saints need to play with this energy and swag consistently. If they can the Saints can maybe shock the NFL world. More swag means more confidence. And more confidence means more wins.