Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: Winning vs. Stacked Boxes with the Saints Offensive Line

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines a successful run by Alvin Kamara and the New Orleans Saints offensive line against an Atlanta defense with nine defenders in the box. 

Let’s get this out of the way: The Saints offense was one of the best rushing units in the NFL last year. Atlanta had the 25th-ranked defense for rushing yards gained and was the in the bottom-third of the league in yards per attempt, touchdowns, and yards per game.

It would make sense that New Orleans could get the better of the Falcons’ rush defense—even when Atlanta crowded the box with nine defenders and seven of these defenders on the same side where the Saints would run a gap play. When an offense can run Power to the side where the majority of the defenders are aligned, that offense is the bully on the block.

It should be noted that Mark Ingram’s efficiency for eight-plus defenders in the box was 10th among runners and Kamara was 29th. If we refine this to backs with at least 150 carries, Ingram was sixth and Kamara 20th—a reasonable indication that the Saints’ rep as a good run team didn’t solely come from facing the struggling Falcons twice a year.

Still, the play below is a good illustration of intelligent scheming, strong offensive execution, and the difficulty of defending a play when one teammate fails to maintain his responsibility.

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