Bringing back a series of pieces from the past three years, we’re going to check each position group on the New Orleans Saints and discuss how they improve the Saints’ chances of making a run in 2020. On to the linebackers!.
To view previous parts, see below:
Demario Davis is quickly becoming one of the best linebackers in New Orleans Saints history. Davis had a career year in 2019, starting all 16 games, logging 111 tackles, 4 sacks, and an interception, making the First Team All-Pro for the first time in his career. Aside from Davis, the Saints typically used AJ Klein and Kiko Alonso with Davis at linebacker after Alex Anzalone landed on IR in Week 2.
Klein started 15 games for the Saints, totaling 69 tackles, before signing with the Buffalo Bills this offseason. Alonso was able to play only 13 games, eventually landing on IR with a torn ACL. To help fill in for Alonso and/or Klein, the Saints used quality backups like Craig Robertson and Manti Te’o.
So here’s why they’re better in 2020:
The biggest reason we can expect the Saints linebackers to be even better in 2020 is because the group should be healthy. Demario Davis should be joined by Alex Anzalone, who has flashed in limited action when healthy, and 2019 7th round pick Kaden Ellis. Kiko Alonso should eventually be able to return early in the year too from his ACL tear, and if so, the Saints could have four above-average contributors in the middle of their defense. Fortunately the Saints have added former Eagles LB Nigel Bradham into the mix in the event Anzalone, Alonso or Ellis can’t return to health fast enough.
Additionally, as the defensive line and secondary should be better in 2020 (spoiler alert), this should help put even less pressure on the linebacking corps. With Anzalone occasionally asked to defend tight ends out running routes, the emergency of CJ Gardner-Johnson defending the slot should help. With the defensive line expected to be flying around opposing quarterbacks and running backs, this will allow the linebackers to simply plug up holes or clean up messes.
And with a player the caliber of Demario Davis leading the defense, the Saints should be able to expect big things again in 2020.