Do the New Orleans Saints have the best defense in the league in 2022? C.J. Gardner-Johnson certainly thinks so.
At the beginning of the offseason, Saints fans were rightfully worried about losing safety Marcus Williams in free agency, and losing Malcolm Jenkins dealt a tough blow, too.
The Saints have nonetheless built one of the most elite defenses in the NFL with core pieces like Marshon Lattimore, Demario Davis, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and it’s hard to imagine the Saints falling out of the top 10 in overall defense.
In 2021, the Saints allowed 1,589 rushing yards (fourth best in the league) and 3,821 passing yards (ranked roughly in the middle of the league), yet the team has the potential to perform much better in 2022 with a healthy secondary and elite defenders everywhere on the field.
Gardner-Johnson was recently asked by Good Morning Football if the Saints had the best defense and his answer was to be expected:
"Of course, I mean from first level, second level, third level. You got Cam and the front to pop it off, Shy (Tuttle), Marcus Davenport. Then you got Demario in the middle calling all the shots… Pete [Werner], [Kaden] Elliss, all those guys in the middle. Then the back end, bringing in the Honey Badger (Mathieu).We just had a Super Bowl safety, two-time Super Bowl safety (Malcolm Jenkins), now we are bringing in another hometown hero, won a Super Bowl, Pro Bowler. So he knows, and we know what to expect. We’re just going to go out there and dominate and take advantage of the opportunity. Cause all this talent, why not? Can’t waste it."
Do the NOLA Saints have the best team defense in the league in 2022?
Naturally, there are some question marks that still loom over the team’s defense this upcoming season. Despite Cam Jordan’s perennial dominance, will another Saints’ edge-rusher step up and earn the title of Jordan’s potential heir? Demario Davis remains elite as ever, but can NOLA’s young linebackers follow in his footsteps and grow into consistent starting roles?
The additions of Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye rank as arguably the two most important moves of the Saints’ offseason, and it’ll be interesting to see how each player fits into the system.
Ceedy Duce, once a proposed trade piece in a potential Deshaun Watson acquisition, recently enjoyed a productive season in which he recorded a career-high three picks and two sacks, and he no doubt will continue to play an important role in the backfield.
Gardner-Johnson is right about one thing: there is a lot of talent in the Saints’ defensive corps this year. Defense may win championships, but offense gets you there, and only time will tell if the team has enough firepower to make it to the playoffs in 2022.