While concerns around turnovers and penalties (legitimate or not) continue to pester the New Orleans Saints, one early season worry looks to be trending in the right direction. After opening the season with just one sack in the first two games, the Saints defense has piled on 6 sacks in the two games since. On Sunday, the defensive line was disruptive and impacted several plays as the pass rush began to emerge as a silver lining in an otherwise concerning start to the season.
Defensive linemen Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport were particularly effective splitting a sack on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and adding additional hits as well. Davenport applied pressure on a play that turned into an incomplete pass in the red zone while Jordan had similar moments throughout. Add to that the consistent timing of the pressures that were accused on third down, the pressure plays coming from the second level from linebackers Pete Werner and Demario Davis and even a sack from the interior thanks to Kentavius Street.
The signs of life were necessary after a three-sack performance in the team’s loss to the Carolina Panthers last week started to build some momentum for this element of the game. New Orleans finished with 47 sacks last season after a slow start to the year. They could be on their way to doing the same here in 2022. Since co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen joined the coaching staff, the Saints defense has not failed to secure 40 or more sacks in each season’s opening 16-game stretch. They’ll need more pressure from Jordan, who is up to 108.5 career sacks while chasing Rickey Jackson’s franchise sacks record (115).
With 7 sacks in their first four games, the team is not yet on pace to top 30 sacks in their 2022 campaign. However, it’s still early. New Orleans will need to keep building on this momentum from the last two weeks to get back on track. But it’s about more than just the pressure numbers, it’s about wins as well. And the Saints have proven that when their pass rush is productive, they can be a winning team. More sacks on third downs and contact fumbles are the next pieces to see bolstered by the team’s pass rush specialists. If that gets going, this silver lining can quickly turn into a game-winning element as New Orleans looks to turn things around after a rough 1-3 start.