The New Orleans Saints‘ defense paved the way for them to get to 9-8 last season and while the team didn’t make the playoffs, the defense played well enough that it felt like they deserved a spot in the tournament.
The good news for Saints fans is that the defense should still be pretty good in 2022 even without Sean Payton as the head coach. Dennis Allen, who has served as the defensive coordinator since 2015, is taking over as the head coach and he’s all too familiar with these guys and should be able to get even more out of them.
While NOLA could lose Marcus Williams, P.J. Williams, and Kwon Alexander in free agency, they still have four of their leaders returning to the team this year. Let’s look at four defensive leaders who will be back in 2022 to help the Saints’ defense continue to shine.
4. C.J. Gardner-Johnson
With both of the Williamses potentially leaving in free agency, C.J. Gardner-Johnson is going to be even more important than he already was.
The former fourth-round pick out of Florida has become a fan favorite during his time in the Big Easy and he really became a household name this past season when he mocked Tom Brady for destroying a tablet during the 9-0 Saints shutout win over Tampa Bay. He also famously kicked the Falcons’ logo during the Week 18 game in Atlanta, which can be seen in the image featured at the top of the page.
Gardner-Johnson was tied for the most interceptions on the team in 2021 with three and it felt like the guy was everywhere on the field. He’s entering a contract year, so we could see CJGJ’s best season yet and that means only good things should happen for the Saints defense this year.