Latavius Murray didn’t receive the most welcoming introduction by Saints fans, less because fans were upset about his signing, and more of frustration over Mark Ingram’s contract negotiations. While I’m going to miss Mark Ingram myself, I have been very high on Murray and his fit with the Saints since the beginning of free agency. His skill set perfectly compliments the Saints needs. Plus, he has never played with an offensive line as talented as the one he will run behind this season. Murray is in a perfect place to maximize his talents and help the Saints fight for another run at the Super Bowl. His ability to burst though open holes, beat second level defenders, and make quick cuts stand out on tape. The designed cutback perfectly displays all three of these skills, and Sean Payton would be wise to utilize it with Murray in the backfield.
Before we begin, I want to give a quick thank you to Andrew from the Who Dat Discussion for his Film Study on Latavius Murray and Ian Howard of the Saints Talk podcast for his unintentional assistance on this.
In the clip above, you can see the designed cutback run vs the Panthers on Monday Night Football. Keith Kirkwood initially followers the blocking pattern before kicking outside to open up a hole for Mark Ingram. The runningback needs to possess the ability to turn on a dime. If the back is able to suck the linebackers into the left side B/C gap, it leaves an open hole to burst through. Then, it becomes a “me vs you” game against the defensive backs. There is a lot of small moving parts involved in this play, and that’s why it’s important to have a talent runningback.
The clip above is the same concept, but Tre’Quan Smith sneaks behind the offensive line to create the hole for Mark Ingram. The Saints have ran different variations of this play, but we will most likely see it ran with Josh Hill or Zach Line this season.
I fully expect Sean Payton to steal this play. The Vikings come out in a two tight end set, something the Saints ran more than the average NFL team. Tyler Conklin comes in motion before pulling similar to Tre’Quan Smith did with the Saints. There’s a noticeably different hole between teams. However, Murray shows his burst through the small opening before picking up the first down.
This final clip shows all of the skills mentioned coming together for Latavius Murray. Murray has good vision and ability to squeeze through small gaps to pick up big yards. His running style is similar to Mark Ingram, yet he’s never played behind such a talented offensive line. In addition, Murray has shown talent catching passes out of the backfield, which the Saints find valuable. There is no doubt that Alvin Kamara will be this season’s feature back, but Murray isn’t going to be a forgotten piece to this team.
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Mark Ingram: 138 attempts | 645 yards | 4.7 ypc | 6 rushing TDs | 21 receptions | 170 receiving yards | 1 touchdown
Latavius Murray: 140 attempts | 578 yards | 4.1 ypc | 6 rushing TDs | 22 receptions | 141 yards | 0 TDs