The New Orleans Saints own a 7-1 record at the halfway point of the 2019 season. The Saints offense has continued to be productive, despite numerous injuries on that side of the ball. The New Orleans defense has played at an extremely high level to support their offense, particularly over the last six games. The defense ranks in the top ten in the league in most major categories and has held three opponents to 10 points or less. The unit has Pro Bowl caliber players at all three levels and have shut down offenses nearly every week. Here have been some of the team's biggest defensive stars over the first half of the 2019 season.
The Saints All-Pro defensive end has 8 sacks so far, including 6 in the last four games, and is well on his way to his fifth double digit total in the last seven years. Jordan has 28 quarterback pressures, and has been a consistent disruptive presence all season. In addition to being an outstanding pass rusher, the 30-yr. old end is one of the best edge run defenders in the NFL. He is one of the most underrated defenders at any position in the league, one of the best defensive players in franchise history, and is on his way to perhaps his best season.
Davis is once again the team leader in tackles with 52, well on his way to his seventh straight year of at least 85 tackles. He has spearheaded a 2nd ranked New Orleans run defense that has completely shut down opposing running games. Davis is also a major asset for the pass defense. He is a disruptive blitzer, and has the athleticism to cover both tight ends and backs down the field. He is one of the team's top leaders, and an every down playmaker that has elevated the entire defense since joining them a year ago. Davis was unfairly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting after a stellar 2018 campaign, but is making it nearly impossible to overlook him now.
Lattimore is playing better than the form that won him the 2017 Rookie of the Year award. He has 1 interception, leads the team in passes broken up, and is allowing quarterbacks just a 56.4% completion percentage when targeting him. Lattimore has often locked onto the opponent's top receiver, and has made them irrelevant in the outcome of games. He has teamed with Eli Apple, who has also been playing tremendously, to stifle opposing passing games. After an inconsistent second year, Marshon Lattimore has put himself in the conversation with the NFL's top cornerbacks.
Bell is possibly the most underrated of the Saints defenders and the least talked about of the league's top defensive backs. He is consistently around the football though, and is a factor in several big plays. Bell's 4 forced fumbles lead the league, and he has a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown this season. He is a skilled safety close to the line of scrimmage, and has always been one of the most productive tacklers for the New Orleans defense in each of his four seasons. Bell's improvement in pass coverage over the last two years has been one of the things that's boosted this defense to the top. He shows good awareness in zones and is now capable of both taking on an opposing receiver in the slot or shutting down deep plays over the top as a deep safety.
The New Orleans Saints have been known as an offensive powerhouse during coach Sean Payton's tenure with the organization. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has done a magnificent job game planning against opponents this season and making in-game adjustments. The talent on the field is deep and has executed sharply, led by the performances of Jordan, Davis, Lattimore, and Bell. As we've seen over the first half of 2019, it's a championship caliber unit. One that just might bully their way to a Super Bowl LIV crown.
Who is the Saints defensive M.V.P. over the first half of the 2019 season?
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