The Saints defense has every right to feel confident about the core that they have going into the 2022 NFL season. Dennis Allen’s group lost some of their key contributors to last year’s defense that ranked in the top 10 of NFL defense. The Saints defensive group carried the load during the 2021 season for New Orleans as the offense was dealing with injuries on the offensive side, most notably at the quarterback position. New Orleans will look to assert themselves as one of the top defensive groups in the NFL heading into the 2022 season.
The Saints allowed the fourth-lowest average quarterback rating (81.7) and allowed the third-lowest touchdown rate (3.4%). Opponents struggled on the ground against the Saints defense, averaging only (3.7) yards per rush.
Saints’ Defensive Line:
Most of the core from the 2021 Saints defensive line will still be in tack. New Orleans is hoping that they can get Payton Turner and Marcus Davenport healthy for the upcoming season. The defensive line group is led by Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and David Onyemata. The defensive line combined for 21.5 sacks in 2021.
Cameron Jordan has been one of the more consistent producers as an edge rusher that you will find in the entire league. Jordan has the ability to defend both the run and the pass. The star defensive end ranks first among edge defenders in snaps played (4,826).
Payton Turner and Marcus Davenport saw limited action during the 2021 season. In Turner’s rookie season he appeared in only five games last year. Turner and Davenport both were on the sidelines in 2021 for most of the season, due to injury. The Saints are hoping that with a healthy Turner and Davenport that the Saints defensive front will have depth entering the 2021 season. The lack of depth was an issue last season, as injuries caused the defensive line group to struggle at times last year.
The Saints were able to add to the defensive line group by adding free agents, Taco Charlton and Kentavius Street. Charlton has been a solid player in the NFL, but has yet to live up to the billing of that first-round draft pick status. Street will be able to help the Saints on the opposite end of the line where Jordan and Davenport rush the passer.
Other depth players that consist of the defensive front seven include Tanoh Kpassagnon and Malcolm Roach.
The focal point of the linebacker group the past several seasons has been Demario Davis who has been a wrecking force for the Saints defense.
Davis started 16 of a possible 17 regular season games for the Saints in 2021. He recorded 105 tackles (70 solo), three sacks and seven passes defended. Davis will look to break the 100-tackle mark for the eight-time heading the upcoming season. It’s only a matter of time until Davis will be selected to his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Another bright spot that was featured in the linebacking core for the black and gold was Pete Werner breaking out in his rookie season. Werner posted 62 tackles. The Saints are expected to lose Kwon Alexander in the offseason, so this may be the chance for Werner to compete for a starting role on the Saints defense.
Other key roles featured in the linebacking core are Zack Baun and Kaden Elliss. Baun has been primarily used on the special team’s unit for New Orleans, but has served as a viable option coming off of the bench. Elliss has played on occasion on defense or special teams in 2021. He racked up 17 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery.
The Saints were one of the best pass defenses in the NFL in 2021 as they allowed just an 81.7 passer rating, the fifth-lowest in the league.
The New Orleans Saints lost some key pieces in the secondary in the offseason, but were able to piece it together during free agency. The Saints will have to fill the shoes of Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Williams. Jenkins elected to retire this offseason and Williams was signed by the Baltimore Ravens.
The Saints were able to rebuild their safety room with the additions of Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye. There is reason to believe with these key additions that the Saints have upgraded at the safety position. The Saints also added to their secondary with adding from the draft with selecting Alontae Taylor in the second round.
Saints fans will have to wait and see when Maye will step on the field for the first time for the black and gold. Maye is still recovering from an Achilles injury that will prevent him from seeing action early on in the season.
The 29-year-old had his struggles with the Jets defense in 2021 where he allowed a career-worst 122.9 passer rating allowed. Maye will look to have a bounce back year after a disappointing 2021 season. Mathieu, on the other hand, continued to be one of the highly productive safeties in the league.
The Saints cornerback group will be led by veterans Marshon Lattimore and Chauncey-Gardner Johnson. The evolution that the Saints saw with rookie, Paulson Adebo had a breakout rookie season in 2021. There is high expectations with this group heading into the new season. Adebo had three interceptions and eight pass deflections in his rookie campaign.
New Orleans also brought back P.J. Williams this offseason. Williams had one of his best season in 2021 as he racked up three interceptions, two sacks and 42 combined tackles.
The Reason to Believe That the Saints Defense Will Be One of the Top Defenses in the NFL in 2022
The new additions for the Saints was able to boost the secondary outlook for the Saints. Losing Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins was going to be difficult to find replacements. To add the likes of Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu in their place will do wonders for the Saints defense.
The Saints shouldn’t skip a beat heading into the 2022 season. They should be looked at as one of the top defenses in 2022. As long as the Saints defensive line can stay healthy, especially Payton Turner and Marcus Davenport, they should have another breakout year. The Saints defense carried the Saints last year to nine wins, despite the lack of offense the Saints featured in 2021.
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