Some times you often hear the term “No Fly Zone” in the NFL. It was a term made famous by the 2015 Denver Broncos secondary because of their elite play in the defensive backfield. While other teams stake claim to the term, often times it’s more lip service than actual results. While last year’s New Orleans Saints’ defense may not have been the No Fly Zone, they were certainly making it hard on opposing offenses to throw the football.
The Saints were 2nd last season in opponent completion percentage at 59%, fifth in opponents yards per attempt at 6.7, and tied for first in the league in interceptions with 18 on the season. It was a cornerback position group with two sure fire starters and rotational pieces that could fill in a void. This season will look a little bit different.
Cornerback depth chart— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) May 17, 2021
There is no question the loss of Janoris Jenkins is a massive blow. He was a proven veteran starter who, matched alongside Marshon Lattimore, proved to be at times an elite cornerback tandem. Jenkins has posted a 70.4 PFF grade since 2019 which ranks 34th among all active cornerbacks during that time span. Jenkins has soon left in free agency to Tennessee and Lattimore had some off the field issues of his own that may lead to some disciplinary action. Depending on if Lattimore is suspended to begin the season, the Saints could be trotting out a backfield tandem of rookie Paulson Adebo and veteran Patrick Robinson or PJ Williams. Not exactly the ideal lineup to start the season.
The Saints could still look to add another veteran to the mix to add depth and experience. Names like Richard Sherman and Steven Nelson have been names floating around, but no one knows their asking price. With how this offseason has shaped up, the Saints aren’t in the market to add high priced veterans at this time. They have since re-signed undrafted rookie free agent Eric Burrell who was cut last week after a failed physical. If the Saints end up not signing anyone else, their best friend in the secondary will be the defensive line up front.
That unit was a strength of the team because of it’s depth and versatility and it showed. It was Top 10 in the NFL in quarterback pressures, sacks, and quarterback knockdowns. The pressure up front goes hand in hand with the success on the backend of the field. While the Saints did lose guys such as Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins, and Malcolm Brown, they remained invested in the position by re-signing David Onyemata and drafting Payton Turner in the first round. Yes, the secondary has questions, but the answers may lie in how well the defensive line plays.