Man can the Saints create some pressure! We have all started to see that the defensive line is the key to the pass rush for the Saints, and I will be the first to say I had the crystal ball to tell you so! NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan writes about Cam Jordan, Akiem Hicks, John Jenkins, and Junior Galette and how “collectively, they are stopping the run and pressuring the passer as well as any defensive line in the NFL.” There are some great stats from Pro Football Focus in his article, including Junior Galette being the “seventh-ranked pass rushing outside linebacker”, Jenkins ranked as the “10th-ranked defensive tackle in run support, right behind the Detroit Lions‘ Ndamukong Suh” and Hicks as the “seventh-ranked 3-4 defensive end vs. the run.” It is Jordan’s achievements so far, though, that are the most impressive:
Jordan, meanwhile, is the top-ranked defensive end in pass rush production, ahead of more heralded peers like Houston’s J.J. Watt and San Francisco’s Justin Smith. In fact, Jordan’s early numbers are well ahead of what Watt recorded during his All-Pro season a year ago.
However, if you were observant in the preseason, you would have seen that the pressure was always going to come from the front three. In fact, I wrote back in August about how the Saints’ injuries at outside linebacker were nothing to worry about because the pressure had begun to come from the front three. I even wrote about how Glenn Foster has started to create buzz and to date, in limited action due to injuries, he has a tackle and a sack and has started to become a great rotational piece.
Yes, in most 3-4 schemes the outside linebackers are where the sacks come from. But, the Saints are proving that they have serious talent up front. Combine that with Junior Galette and you have a defense that creates problems for opposing offenses. As I said then, “I believe the front three will be vital to the Saint’s efforts in rushing the passer.” And it will continue to be throughout the season.