BOSTON (CBS) — After signing Adrian Peterson and drafting Alvin Kamara in the third round during the offseason, the New Orleans Saints were supposed to tout a solid run game to complement Drew Brees’ always reliable aerial attack.
But if Week 1 is any indication, Brees won’t be able to count on much out of the New Orleans backfield. Peterson, Kamara and Mark Ingram mustered a measly 53 yards on the ground on 19 carries against the Minnesota Vikings, averaging a laughable 2.79 yards per carry (receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and fullback John Kuhn added seven additional yards on two carries). It was one of the worst performances by a running back group in Week 1, drawing plenty of criticism following New Orleans’ season-opening defeat to the Vikings.
It seems as though there’s only one person out there singing the praises of the Saints’ rush attack on Tuesday morning: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. With a trip to New Orleans up next for the 0-1 Patriots, should we have expected anything different from Bill?
“They’re all dangerous but they all have their different, I’d say, skill sets. You see Kamara out of the backfield more than Peterson for example. Again, they’re all productive and I’m sure that New Orleans will do a good job of trying to get those guys opportunities in the things that they are good at, things that they do well,” Belichick said on a conference call on Tuesday morning. “They’re all hard to tackle. Peterson and Ingram have a lot of power, really good balance, good lower body strength. Kamara’s got that but maybe not quite as much but very elusive.
“No question – we’re going to have to be alert for all of them and do a good job of handling each guy; the type of plays that might be specific to that player but also the skills that the player has,” added Belichick.
This may go beyond Belichick pumping the tires of New England’s next opponent. As bad as New Orleans rushers were on Monday, the Patriots’ run defense was equally abysmal last Thursday, allowing the Kansas City Chiefs to run for 185 yards (the second-most in Week 1) and a league-worst 6.9 yards per carry.
Though there are questions about their depth at linebacker and along the defensive line, the Patriots run defense should be better in Week 2. The same can be said for the Saints rushing offense, though they’re dealing with depth issues along the offensive line. Can either unit really play any worse than what they displayed in Week 1?
Peterson was New Orleans’ leading rusher on Monday night, picking up 18 yards on six carries. Though the Patriots have only faced off against Peterson once, Belichick said he’s pretty familiar with the former MVP, having welcomed him in for a free agent visit over the offseason.
“I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect for the way that he plays,” said Belichick. “I have a lot of respect for how hard he works, how important the game is to him. Those are the things that I admire about Adrian.”