The New Orleans Saints admittedly may not have looked like playoff contenders last season, but 2022 has brought about a flurry of changes.
Some changes have been for the better — NOLA’s wideout room, for example, carries much more talent and upside compared to that of 2021, and fans are rightfully excited to see the potentially lethal trio of Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, and Jarvis Landry take the field.
Some changes have strained the team dynamic — seeing Sean Payton step down and Dennis Allen get promoted felt inevitable, but it nonetheless dealt a tough blow to a franchise that has idolized Payton for the past decade and a half.
Through all the drama and turbulence, though, one thing hasn’t wavered at all: the Saints’ elite defense.
Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, ranked 89th in the league’s Top 100 list, started hyping up the unit this preseason and promised that the defense was going to be “dominant.” If recent history is any indication, Lattimore is right on the nose about this one.
It’s time to get excited for Marshon Lattimore and the Saints’ dominant defense in 2022
This offseason, NOLA replenished its painful losses of Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary with Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye, along with additional acquisitions like rookie Alontae Taylor and the vital re-signings of P.J. Williams and Bradley Roby.
And yes, we’ll throw in Daniel Sorensen too as a semi-important depth piece.
Very few weakness remain in the Saints’ defense, and it’s reasonable to expect another year of dominance from a gifted, experienced, and — barring any injuries — a wholly complete unit.
NOLA’s stats from the last few seasons speak for themselves.
In 2021, the Saints ranked first in the NFL in opponent red zone touchdown percentage (43.5) and second in opponent first downs (304) and opponent rushing first downs (84), not to mention they earned a top-five run defense ranking for the third consecutive season.
The year before that, the Saints tied for first in the league in interceptions (18). And the year before that, the Saints recorded a third-best 51 sacks, the team’s highest total since 2001.
Heading into 2022, New Orleans’ defensive leaders haven’t changed as Lattimore, Cam Jordan, and Demario Davis will continue to make their respective meteor-sized impacts all over the field. The Saints no doubt would like to see a jump in production from their 2021 draft picks (Payton Turner, Pete Werner, and Paulson Adebo) as well as from players who suffered injury-shortened seasons or a down year (Marcus Davneport is the first name that comes to mind), but at its core, the team defense has stayed stable and maintained an elite, almost untouchable standard.
All of the key roster pieces are there — now it’s just a matter of execution. Year after year, the Saints’ D has gotten the job done, and 2022 is no exception.