As the New Orleans Saints transition into life after Drew Brees, there are still some pretty shiny silver linings after their future Hall-of-Famer hung up the black and gold last season.
The Saints might not have a de facto quarterback to start their first game, but the rest of their offense remains elite and is more than capable of dominating in the trenches. Erik McCoy covers the interior as a Pro Bowl-caliber lineman. Cesar Ruiz could have a breakout year in his second season. Alvin Kamara has scores of yard-rushing highlight reels that haunt NFL defensive coordinators in their sleep.
But the Saints’ best shot at winning football’s most coveted honor rests squarely on the shoulders of two men.
To no one’s surprise, Ben Linsey from PFF listed the Saints’ offensive tackles as their biggest strength this season:
"Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk form the league’s top returning tackle duo. Both players play an integral role in New Orleans’ rushing and passing attack. Over the past four seasons, no team in the NFL has had a higher conversion rate on runs off left or right tackle than the Saints (29.3%). Armstead and Ramczyk rank first and seventh, respectively, among all tackles in pressure rate allowed over that same time frame. It’s difficult for an offensive line to fail with that kind of play at the tackle position."
Ramczyk recently made headlines for becoming the highest-paid right tackle in the league, securing a historic multi-year extension that’s more than well-deserved. He was the Saint’s first-round pick in 2017 and has since been an ultra-durable quarterback protector missing just one regular-season game in four years. He’s played no less than 95% of offensive snaps throughout his career, and the Saints need him as much as humans need water. It’s a mutually co-dependent relationship that’ll yield promising rewards for the future.
The Saints’ offensive tackles are their most deadly weapon
Ramczyk’s partner in crime, Terron Armstead, is set to be a free agent in 2022, but many hope the Saints can crunch the necessary numbers in their salary cap and extend him soon. Armstead was named the Saints’ best value draft pick at No. 75 in 2013, and it’s not hard to see why.
The three-time Pro Bowl tackle perfectly complements Ramczyk as two rugged, mighty bookends and together, they have locked down the edge as elite left and right tackles. With that Andrus Peat contract seeming more and more like a terrible oversight by the Saints’ front office, Armstead and Ramczyk are two tackles who never fail to perform.
Since entering the NFL in 2017, the Saints have allowed the fewest sacks (65) in the league. No matter which young quarterback fills Brees’ humongous shoes, he can sleep easy knowing that the edges will be well cared for. Of course, the team will actually need the quarterback to, you know, perform, to be a contender, but with Armstead and Ramczyk by his side, scoring touchdowns never looked so easy.