The New Orleans Saints entered 2022 with one of the highest touted defenses in the league, but the unit has since taken a steep fall from its pedestal.
Through six weeks of the season, the Saints rank 28th in interceptions, 17th in sacks, 19th in passing yards allowed, and 20th in rushing yards allowed. These are not the numbers of last year's top-10 unit, and heading into Week 7 the Saints' defense is starting to become more of a liability than a sure thing.
Take Ja'Marr Chase's game-winning touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Week 6, for example. He gashed the Saints in the open field with 132 total receiving yards that game, and it ended up being Tyrann Mathieu, NOLA's golden boy recruit, who missed a tackle and let him get away for an easy touchdown.
Mathieu's production has been less than impressive, but so has the rest of the Saints' defenders. New Orleans has just one interception so far this season; in 2021, they had 18.
Part of the reason for the defense's decline in efficiency is the massive changeover that occurred this past offseason. The Saints lost Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins, and C.J. Gardner Johnson -- those three combined for six picks last year.
Saints may have to go back to the drawing board to fix disappointing defense
There was hope that New Orleans' new acquisitions could fill in the holes those players left behind, but so far, Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye have well underperformed.
Maye has played just three games and needs to prove he can be a consistently healthy starter; Mathieu recorded the Saints' lone pick, yet his blown coverage assignments and missed tackle rate make the Chiefs' decision not to re-sign him look better and better every week.
With Ceedy Duce off achieving great things in Philadelphia, Justin Evans has fared decently in the slot, though he doesn't possess nearly as much big-play ability as Gardner Johnson does.
The Saints faithfuls in the defensive unit have been carrying the team so far: Demario Davis and Cam Jordan lead the pass-rush with 7.5 combined sacks, and when healthy, Marshon Lattimore projects to be at least a top-15 cornerback.
Other than Pete Werner rising above the second-year players and putting together a spectacular season so far, the Saints' D hasn't looked dominant since that Bucs matchup.
More players needs to step up, particularly those in the defensive line like Shy Tuttle and David Onyemata.
Something just isn't clicking right now, and Dennis Allen had better find a solution to the team's poor defensive play soon.