Not many teams in the NFL know how to run a backfield with two backs quite like the New Orleans Saints. During the 2017 NFL season the franchise started with three prominent running backs on their roster: the dependable Mark Ingram who had been with the organization for the past six years, the All-Pro Adrian Peterson coming off a torn meniscus in his right knee, and the third round rookie out of the University of Tennessee Alvin Kamara. With so much talent it was going to be interesting to see how the Saints dealt out touches.
Something had to give in the Saints’ backfield. However, once the season started, it became crystal clear that the RB room was too crowded. On October 10, 2017, the Saints traded Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals, and the run game was back. After not having a single person rush for more than 60 yards in the first four games, the next game Ingram ran for 114 yards, and Kamara tacked on an extra 75. There was fluidity in the backfield. The bruising, old-school style of Ingram’s attack perfectly complemented the pass-catching, new-school style approach of Kamara. Both backs would finish the regular season with more than 1,500 total yards. Had they not lost the heartbreaker in Minneapolis, they would’ve been vital for a Super Bowl victory.
During the 2018 season, the balanced but lethal attack continued to overwhelm their opponent’s defense. Yet, with the end of the season here, the Saints have a decision to make. Do they re-sign former Heisman winner Mark Ingram, who is a free agent this offseason, or let him go to another team? With how well their offense has been the past two years this decision should be easy, Ingram needs to stay in the Big Easy.
Thunder and lightning works for Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and the New Orleans Saints like versatility works for Outkast
I just graduated from Virginia Tech this past December. They were some of the best years of my life. However, there was much change in those four and a half years in Blacksburg. I changed my major four times experiencing three different concentrations of Engineering (General, Mining, and Materials and Science) until finally transferring to Communication Studies. During my time in those various majors, I had six different counselors. I lived in three separate buildings, one dorm, and two apartments, and had eight different roommates. However, there was one constant the Blacksburg provided me during my stay, WUVT 90.7 Blacksburg.
Every semester once a week I would broadcast a two or three-hour radio show as DJ Promised Hero. I had the time of my life providing the New River Valley with some of my favorite music. Many radio stations have gone entirely digital, but the studio adorned itself with three CD players, two record players, an aux cord, and an enormous collection of music covering just about every genre you could think of. It was a music enthusiast’s dream.
Outkast’s discography is just a precursor to what the New Orleans Saints’ backfield can do
Throughout my time at the radio station, I was able to listen to full discographies of music I never had access to before. My love of bands like Queen and Foreigner blossomed with the ability to hear their b-sides instead of just their hits. I was also able to discover new-to-me artists such as Tame Impala, The Black Keys, Brand New, and countless others. The week before I graduated, I had spun 4081 songs on the airwaves.
My first couple shows altered my schedule quite a bit. I was in the studio at four until seven o’clock on Thursday mornings. However, due to how early my show was, I could play just about whatever I wanted since they were thrilled that someone would be in the studio delivering live radio. So I used this time to go through genres of music to introduce myself to as much as possible. One genre I essentially studied was Hip Hop. 2Pac. Biggie. Nas. Kendrick. Atmosphere. Wu-Tang. I loved them all. However, there was one that I held and listened to above them all: Andre “Andre 3000” Benjamin and Antawn “Big Boi” Patton, Outkast.
You can’t fight a dynamic duo
WUVT had it all: ATLiens, Aquemini, Stankonia, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, everything. It was such a different style of hip hop coming out of Atlanta, GA in 1992. No one had ever heard anything like it. After I listened to it and played a lot of it on my shows, I asked one of my friends, who was also into rap, if he knew anyone artists that sounded like Outkast. He couldn’t give me anything. No one has been able to match that vibe since they split in 2007.
The unique and adventurous music stylings of Andre 3000 matched with the solid backing of Big Boi were perfect. Both fantastic lyricists. They were a force to be reckoned with. They are at least top five all-time in hip hop, I can make some arguments they should be number one. A lot of the praise goes to Andre for his graceful poetry and transcendent thinking in regards to the arrangement of the songs and rightfully so. However, we must not forget how hard hitting and solid Big Boi’s lines were as he too was a master of the mic.
You don’t see rap groups like Outkast anymore, just like you don’t see running backs by committee like Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram
Wait this is reminding me of something. A few paragraphs up. A force to be reckoned with in the south. The running back tandem has combined for 50 touchdowns and 5,500 yards. The bruising, north-south back, Mark Ingram masterfully paired with the pass-catching, elusive, new-style back in Alvin Kamara.
While I will admit Alvin Kamara had a fantastic season yet again, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The tandem has vaulted the Saints running game to a top five unit in the NFL since 2017. The Saints have limited draft picks this year after trading up last season with Green Bay to draft defensive lineman Marcus Davenport. Re-signing Ingram will allow the franchise to focus on other positions to help this team win the Super Bowl.
Sure Kamara can be the starting guy, but Ingram has shown his ability to excel in a change of pace role. He had 17 carries of ten or more yards. Ingram broke 100 yards twice and consistently converted first downs throughout the entire 2018 season. He is the Big Boi to Kamara’s Andre. The utterly unique tandem works perfectly and needs continuity for years to come. Drew Brees is still quite the QB, and the Saints need to take advantage of that. Keeping consistency in the offense and preserving its dominant run game is paramount. By re-signing Ingram, the Saints have an opportunity to hoist that Lombardi yet again.
There are a few things I call perfect: the fresh bite into a perfectly wrapped sub, the feeling of the wind going through your hair going twenty miles an hour down a hill on a longboard, the support of my family, and the music that impeccable duo from Atlanta created for the world are a few though.
Ingram and Kamara’s performance is nearly there. The Saints need to give them the opportunity to continue and be remembered as one of the best backfields in NFL history.