For the second and final part of my way-too-early projection of the roster that the New Orleans Saints will carry into their 2021 regular-season opener, we will train our sights on the team’s defensive and special teams units.
Despite a now-expected slow start to the season, Dennis Allen’s 2020 group would take a sizable step toward culminating a true worst-to-first journey over the course of his four years as the team’s defensive coordinator by finishing in the league’s top five in both yards and points allowed.
Equally stout against the run and the pass, the emergent defense would come to carry the mantle in New Orleans as the Saints’ once-high flying offense veered closer to the mean.
However, when the Saints take to the Superdome turf to open the 2021 season versus the Green Bay Packers, they will be without major contributors at each level of the defense from the season prior.
New Orleans Saints defense must reload
It starts up-front, with EDGE Trey Hendrickson and his 13.5 sacks having departed the building along with 320-pound run-stuffer Malcolm Brown.
The team’s linebacking corps, the improvement in talent and depth of which corresponded nicely with the uptick in the unit’s overall performance, will be without Demario Davis’ primary 2020 cohorts Kwon Alexander and Alex Anzalone.
Finally, the backend of the Saints defense finds itself in an all-too-familiar situation at the cornerback position. After a one-year respite from the revolving door that is the starting spot opposite Marshon Lattimore, new secondary coach Kris Richard will be charged with plucking a replacement for Janoris Jenkins from among the unproven options on the team’s current roster.
What represents a challenge for the Saints in terms of replacing these players should make for some compelling storylines come training camp.
Follow along as we consider what most of the offseason competition could have on the Saints’ 53- man roster in 2021.