Saints could desperately use Trey Hendrickson this season

Trey Hendrickson. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Trey Hendrickson. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Trey Hendrickson is on the Cincinnati Bengals living his best life, and the New Orleans Saints can only watch from afar and grumble.

The ex-Saint pass-rusher signed with Cincinnati last March following a breakout year when he posted a career-best 13.5 sacks in 2020, adding 25 tackles and 25 quarterback hits.

So far in 2021, Hendrickson has been just as productive for the Bengals. Through six weeks he has recorded 5.5 sacks, 12 tackles, and 11 quarterback hits, on track to reach or potentially exceed his 2020 numbers.

On the Saints’ defensive side, sack artists are few and far between. Marcus Davenport has registered just one sack in New Orleans’ opening game against Green Bay, and was subsequently injured. Perennial Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan has yet to get a single sack in 2021.

While everybody knows sacks aren’t the best indicator of a pass-rusher’s performance, the stat still carries some weight.

Jordan has been acing other categories like run stop win rate, for which he has the highest-ranked percentage (37 percent).

But the huge “0” in the sack column doesn’t bode well given that Jordan recorded 7.5 sacks last year and 15.5 sacks the year before that. The decrease in production could be attributed to simply age, but Jordan has struggled without partner-in-crime Davenport in the last few weeks.

New Orleans Saints need a sack artist like Trey Hendrickson to upgrade their pass-rush

Rookie Payton Turner got his first sack against the Carolina Panthers, but he’s in no position to follow in Hendrickson’s footsteps. Even Hendrickson took three years before he really came into his own as an elite pass-rusher.

New Orleans recorded a combined 145 sacks over the past three years, but in 2021, they’ve only managed to record eight sacks, ranking just ahead of Kansas City as the next lowest in the league.

Tanoh Kpassagnon, Carl Granderson, and others are also responsible for adding a much needed edge to this pass-rushing unit. As it stands, the Saints’ pass-rush looks completely toothless, and it might be time for a trade.

In the meantime, Jordan and Davenport can take a page from Hendrickson’s book on rushing the quarterback. Hendrickson, along with other Bengals defenders, has helped mold Cincinnati into having one of the best defensive units early in the year.

Cincinnati’s offense, so highly touted in the preseason, has performed rather averagely with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase being the only scintillating highlights. Yet their defense is a different beast altogether and has helped the Bengals beat the Steelers and nearly beat the Packers.

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In 2021, the Saints and the Bengals share a few similarities: the defense being better than the offense, working with a brand new quarterback, etc. The pass-rush, however, is not something the two have in common, as the Bengals can brag about Hendrickson week in and week out. Hopefully the Saints find their own glowing idol this season.