The New Orleans Saints defense has been good pretty much all season no matter the circumstance, but the presence of Marcus Davenport adds an element to the pass rush that could move this defense up a level even higher.
Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen’s defense is tied for fifth in the league in yards per play allowed (5.2), seventh in third down percentage allowed (33.73%) and third in points allowed per game (16.8). In large part, these numbers have been due to the Saints’ stingy coverage unit and run defense.
The one area that has been lacking a bit on this defense, and maybe the one thing keeping it from being a truly elite unit, is the pass rush.
New Orleans only has one person on the defense with over 13 QB pressures this entire season, and that’s Cam Jordan with 24 — via PFF. And they only have three with more than 10 — Tanoh Kpassagnon (13), Carl Granderson (12) and Demario Davis (11).
Through six games, you’d like to have at least two pass rushers averaging more than three pressures a game.
This is why, despite the effectiveness of the defense so far this season, the Saints rank 29th in Team PFF Pass Rush grade (63.2).
But there is a guy who can come in and fix this if he can stay healthy. And he loves nothing more than watching anime and plowing through offensive tackles.
You guessed it, it’s Davenport.
Through the past couple of seasons, Davenport has been one of this defense’s best players when healthy.
Racking up 34 pressures in just 11 games last season — and 51 and six sacks the year before that — health has been the only thing keeping Davenport from being a star in this league.
He puts consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and even when he’s not coming up with sacks, he still makes things difficult with how he beats offensive linemen.
This past game against the Seahawks for instance, he didn’t record a single sack. But you could argue he was the best player when he was on the field.
He absolutely mauled Seattle’s line, wreaking havoc with six pressures, five hurries and a QB hit on just 19 pass rush snaps. This performance earned him a 90.0 PFF pass rush grade.
And it’s the way he was doing it that made it so impressive.
I mean look at him bulldoze former All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown into the ground to flush Geno Smith out of the pocket here.
Some plays I loved… Davenport is just a beast. pic.twitter.com/EhDKPmCZ1i— David Romero (@SaintsBS) October 27, 2021
This is just bully ball. There’s nothing complicated about this play — he’s just bigger, stronger or more explosive than most human beings trying to block him.
He had more plays like this where he was just destroying tackles’ lives, but it’s not just these plays that make his presence so devastating.
Take the above play for example, where he literally fights through a double team to force Smith to step up in the pocket and check the ball down sooner than he wants to.
Having guys on the line who are capable of this changes the entire complexion of the opposing offense’s game plan. Plus, having someone besides Cam Jordan who can force doubles allows for at least one of them to always be 1-on-1 vs. a tackle when in on pass plays.
The Saints defense will need this more than ever this Sunday, as not getting pressure on Tom Brady is a death sentence.
The blueprint last year against the Bucs was to get up into their receivers and try to get pressure on TB12 with a four-man pass rush. This causes him to sit in the pocket longer and wait for the rush. And having Davenport in highly increases the chances of getting home with a four-man.
Nonetheless, it’s a huge boost to get the four-year man out of UTSA back on the field for another week.
If Davenport can keep up the level of play he put on display Monday night and stay healthy for the remainder of the year, offenses better watch out. Because this dude can wreck your passing game.
What do you think of Marcus Davenport? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AndrewBell_98.