These advanced metrics suggest Alvin Kamara has lost a step

It’s been a rough couple of years for Alvin Kamara. Between an offensive line that regressed amid coaching changes and inconsistent-at-best quarterback play, the New Orleans Saints’ star running back has had to do a lot of the work on his own — and, advanced stats suggest, he’s beginning to wear down.

One analyst at Football Insights shared a chart displaying running backs through two metrics over the last two years: yards after contact per carry, and missed tackles per carry. And Kamara wound up in the wrong quadrant. So did his teammate Jamaal Williams. Both of them fell among the league’s least-dynamic running backs after performing poorly in these advanced stats.

It’s no secret that the Saints were less-than-explosive on the ground last year, but the trend goes back further than that. Kamara isn’t breaking tackles and running away from defenders as easily as we saw early in his career. It’s easy to explain when you consider how heavy a workload he’s been asked to shoulder in recent years, compared to the timeshare he enjoyed with Mark Ingram II early on. Wear and tear adds up.

But Kamara remains a big part of the team’s plans on offense, and he figures to be a big beneficiary of Klint Kubiak designing and calling plays rather than Pete Carmichael. Anything Kubiak can do to get Kamara out in space or working behind better blocking will help; giving him a longer runway will let him build up more speed to make a play. It’s not like Kamara is washed up — he still has tremendous lower-body strength and balance through contact, with a keen eye for reading the field to find an open lane. He’s a coveted talent, and the constant trade speculation is proof of it, even if he isn’t the same player he once was. Kubiak’s job is to help revitalize him.

Hopefully it works out. Between Kamara’s recent struggles, Williams’ disappointing performance, and Kendre Miller’s injury history it’s looking like the Saints should invest more resources in the position with an eye on the future. Maybe that means drafting a running back or taking advantage of the loaded free agency class. In an ideal world, Kamara is playing well enough to quiet those concerns. But that isn’t where we’re at right now.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire