Why the Saints could have a top 5 total defense
The Saints defense has steadily improved each year since Dennis Allen took over the coordinating roles in 2015. Could they be headed for the top five in 2020?
It may seem like the Saints are led by the offensive player of the year, Michael Thomas, and Drew Brees. However, the Saints’ defense has been impressive in multiple faucets.
They were ranked as the fourth-best run defense in 2019, and the defense featured multiple All-Pro players: first-team All-Pro linebacker Demario Davis and second-team All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan.
The Saints defense didn’t only manage to rank 11th in total yards last year. They battled many injuries to post that impressive statistic. Defensive end Marcus Davenport and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who both have Pro Bowl potential, missed a combined nine games in 2019.
Cameron Jordan, who’s still in his prime, recorded a career-high 15.5 sacks last year.
He’s the oldest starter on their impressive defense line. That’s the scary part. Malcolm Brown is 26, Sheldon Rankins is 26, and Onymeta is 27. These solid run pluggers are just entering their prime.
Behind Jordan, features an imposing group of linebackers.
Demario Davis was first-team All-Pro and proved to be the best linebacker since Jonathan Vilma. Kiko Alonso was having a career reboot before he tore his ACL again, and Alex Anzalone has proven to be a steal as a mid-round draft pick, when healthy.
These two linebackers returning to full health will join rookie linebacker, Zack Baun, who got drafted in the third round to start potentially.
Baun had a first-round grade at linebacker from many teams but slid in the draft due to off-field concerns and injury issues. This linebacking corps should be far better than last season if they are healthier than a season ago.
The biggest strive in the Saints defense should come from transforming their weakest link. The Saints secondary has always been the Achilles of the franchise, which is ironic because the team’s passing offense has been the strength.
With a return from safety, Malcolm Jenkins, and a full season out of cornerback Janoris Jenkins, the team’s secondary could shift from being below average to elite. Let’s take a more in-depth look into three reasons why the Saints will record a top 5 defense for the first time since 2013.