The New Orleans Saints run defense has been elite, to say the least as of the last 5 or so seasons and has truly been lockdown outside one or two games. With big impact players like Cam Jordan, David Onyemata, Demario Davis, and many others rounding out a phenomenal front seven, this seems likely to be the case for 2022 as well. With the Atlanta Falcons as an opening week opponent, the Saints’ run defense will get a good warmup game against a running back coming off a pretty great season in Cordarrelle Patterson, and some young talent. In this article, I will be breaking down their previous matchups and looking at how the Saints' run defense held up against the Falcons' rush offense, and how they should handle things this season.
Saints rush defense Vs Falcons 2021
To put this extremely lightly and not even skim the surface of things, the rush defense for New Orleans last year against Atlanta was legendary. Not good, not great, not elite, legendary. Across both games last season, the Saints held the Falcons to 95 total rushing yards, 34 in the November game and 62 in the January matchup. Holding a team under 100 rushing yards is usually the standard for a good level of success against them, but 34? on 25 attempts, nonetheless? That is something to behold to put it simply.
In the November matchup, 5 different Saints were able to grab tackles for loss, those included Marcus Davenport, Cameron Jordan, Shy Tuttle, Kwon Alexander, and Pete Werner. The Saints should obviously be looking to replicate this against the Falcons for 2022, which is the next topic:
Will the Saints’ rush defense hold their ground against Atlanta?
The simple answer, you would assume, would be yes. Which is also likely the right answer here. The Saints lost only one key piece in their front 7 this offseason, that being Kwon Alexander. Other than that, they have retained their starters, as well as the return of defensive lineman Payton Turner, who can play at defensive end or potentially defensive tackle as a 3-tech considering his size at 6’6” 270. Returning starters Cameron Jordan, David Onyemata for a full season, Marcus Davenport hopefully for a full season, and Shy Tuttle will round out the group, with Demario Davis and Pete Werner at starting linebacker.
Losing Kwon will be a hit to the defense for sure, but the “addition” per se of Turner will somewhat counteract that loss in terms of talent across the front 7. The Falcons’ running back room has changed quite a bit behind Cordarrelle, losing Mike Davis in free agency, but bringing in veteran Damien Williams and rookie Tyler Allgeier to compete for the RB2, and potentially RB1 spot if they wish to use Patterson more as a receiver. As of right now, the Saints' defense should remain on top of this matchup, considering the Falcons did not make any major acquisitions at the position unless Allgeier breaks out. This should be a key to winning the game for the Saints on Sunday, as forcing Mariota to pass and pass quickly will likely lead to poor decisions for the high-powered secondary to capitalize upon.