Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: RB Alvin Kamara’s (Saints) Balance Is Borderline Mystical

Matt Waldman’s RSP can’t get enough Alvin Kamara tape. This week, he profiles a few runs that highlight the root of Kamara’s skill as a star running back with a prowess for tackle-breaking that borders on the mystical.  

When I watch great running backs, most of you probably think I see footwork, decision-making, athletic ability, and technique. You’re right, but it’s not what I see first.

When I watch great running backs, they evoke wild, mythical imagery.

Adrian Peterson is Mars. When he takes the field, his helmet sprouts a red plume and his forearm shiver is a shield parrying a spear as he slices through the phalanx of enemy forces.

Every time I see Gale Sayers’s punt return for his final, record-breaking touchdown against the 49ers, I swear I see Mercury’s wings sprout from his ankles as he makes that lateral cut inside a defender on the mud-soaked battleground of old Keezar Stadium.

When I was growing up, the legend of Bigfoot reached the forefront of America’s consciousness. So did Earl Campbell, and he ran with the strength and swiftness of a wild beast whose existence was hard to believe.

To watch Walter Payton almost single-handedly take on 11 defenders was like witnessing a surfer or skier carve paths at the edge of a tidal wave or avalanche, get engulfed, and still emerge unscathed.

Barry Sanders was a gigantic, greased steel pinball in his silver pants and the field was his pinball machine.

And you’ll never convince me that Jim Brown isn’t Wolverine. The old guy you see at Cleveland games from time to time? It’s a disguise. He used to pose as a guy named Bo Jackson but the whispers were getting strong and Brown had to fake a career death.

So when I watch Alvin Kamara, I see a ninja at the height of his abilities that were only considered folklore—invisibility, walking on water, and having control over nature.

Kamar moves like a mystical warrior. When necessary, he can perform feats that disrupt the football matrix. However, much of his work looks like a martial arts master whose chi is strong enough to emit a force field that repels opponents with the slightest movement.

Note how he shakes Clowney’s initial grasp in the crease before he even slips through the eventual tackle attempt at his ankle.

That subtle turn of the pads and trunk are strategic movements. Imagine the sensory awareness Kamara possesses to feel the grasp of Clowney, gauge his angle and force of movement, and then divert it elsewhere?

Kamara’s movements are usually deadline in their efficiency. Take this pass to the flat earlier in the game. Note the small twitch of the outside hop to work away from the reach of an opponent followed by a bolo-like stiff-arm against inside pursuit.

Jamaal Charles was great at beating opponents to the punch with initial contact. The contact doesn’t have to be powerful as much as it is violent, first, and sets up addition movement.

The root of Kamara’s mystical balance is his flexibility and mobility. He runs with fantastic body alignment, stride control, and he knows how to shift his frame so it’s balanced for the appropriate mode of attack or evasion.

Appreciate Kamara while he’s at the height of his skills. Even after an exciting college career, his game has grown substantially. Let’s hope he continues on this Hall of Fame trajectory.

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