One of the more respected defenses in the league belongs to the New Orleans Saints. Dennis Allen coaches the unit, and it consists of six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan, three-time Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins, and the young star cornerback in Marcus Lattimore.
In Week 1, the Saints defense shut down the Green Bay Packers. In Week 3, the Saints gave Bill Belichick's offense fits as they intercepted Mac Jones three times. Simply put, the Saints defense is a big reason why they are 2-1.
They rank fourth in the NFL in scoring defense; they only allow 14 points per game. They're stout against the run and rank third in the NFL in rushing yards against. They rank 15th in the NFL in passing yards against.
They currently have six sacks, with Tanoh Kpassagnon as the only member with more than one sack. (Cameron Jordan has five hits on the quarterback and 15 pressures but has yet to record a sack.)
Dennis Allen's unit gets to face a Jason Garrett-coached offense that has averaged 18 points per game this season. New York has a beat-up offensive line, and the game is on the road in the Superdome, which has been a house of horrors for the Giants to play in the last three visits.
That said, let's look at the Saints defense.
Star defensive tackle David Onyemata received a six-game suspension during the off-season. Still, the Saints have done a good job replacing one of the better-run defenders in the league.
The rotation of Montravius Adams, Shy Tuttle, and Christian Ringo has anchored the defensive front. Ringo and Tuttle play more than Adams, and Ringo has more juice than the other two players.
The 6'3", 290-pound Malcolm Roach, a 2020 UDFA out of Texas, also plays significant snaps between the guard and tackle against the run and moves inside in passing situations.
The best player on the Saints defense is Cameron Jordan, one of the better power pass rushers in recent NFL history. Jordan combines a quick get-off with strong/active hands and plays with leverage and explosiveness. If the Giants want to slow him down, they're probably going to have to chip him with a tight end or running back.
Oh, and did we mention that since Jordan mostly plays on the left side, he'll be up against right tackle Nate Solder?
In his third year out of Wyoming, Carl Granderson has earned a role in this defense. Granderson is a lean pass rusher who is explosive off the snap, but he struggles against the run. Granderson should see more of Andrew Thomas, which is a better matchup for New York.
Rookie first-round pick Payton Turner and free-agent Tanoh Kpassagnon, formerly with the Chiefs, also earn a lot of snaps on this defense. Turner is raw and very long, but he can be disruptive with his pass-rushing ability. Turner had a sack against Carolina and has five pressures in two games.
Kpassagnon has rare size and length. He can be very effective in one-on-one situations in a situational role because of his rare physical ability. He has two sacks and seven pressures on the season.
Thirty-two-year-old Demario Davis is still playing at a high level. According to Pro Football Focus, the former New York Jet has 11 stops, and he remains one of the more physical linebackers in the game. He may be long in the tooth, but he still moves well on the field. Davis is hard to manipulate, and he makes this defense difficult to run on.
The rookie second-round pick out of Ohio State, Pete Werner, played well in his first career game against the Patriots. Werner missed the first two weeks of the season, but he saw most of his snaps at the weakside linebacker spot against the Patriots. Werner is a fine athlete but is more known for exceptional run defense and mental processing.
The Saints' 2019 seventh-round pick from Idaho, Kaden Ellis, is a situational linebacker that plays a few dozen snaps a game. Ellis is a good athlete for his 240-pound frame. He's quick for a tall, bulkier linebacker, but he's still a player that Evan Engram or Kadarius Toney can exploit if the latter ends up facing him.
Zack Baun is also on the roster and is used as a situational pass rusher. Baun started for Werner when the rookie missed the first two games but only played seven snaps after Werner returned. Baun can be dangerous, especially when Allen calls for blitzes, and we expect to see him on obvious passing downs.
Marshon Lattimore has dealt with injuries in his career, but he's one of the better man coverage cornerbacks in the NFL when he's healthy. That said, he struggled in 2020, but he's off to a great start this season. He missed Week 2 against Carolina but shut down Nelson Agholor and the Patriots wide receivers in Week 3. We suspect that Lattimore will see a lot of Kenny Golladay this week.
Paulson Adebo, a rookie out of Stanford who opted out of 2020, is starting opposite Lattimore. He is the player on this defense to target in the passing game. Adebo is a great athlete, but he's raw, and NFL wide receivers can take advantage of his lack of experience.
He's already given up two touchdowns on the season but has done a solid job limiting yards after the catch. The Giants will be relying on Collin Johnson, C.J. Board, and Kadarius Toney in this game if Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard can't go.
New Orleans slot cornerback Chauncy Gardner-Johnson is one of the league's better, more physical slot players. He has good size, speed, length and does a great job getting under the skin of opposing players.
Gardner-Johnson is a good football player who can cause problems as a run defender while also doing a good job sticking to tight ends in man coverage when asked to do so.
Malcolm Jenkins is getting long in the tooth, but he's still playing good football. Jenkins is a hard-hitting safety who processes the game at a high level. He's rarely out of position, stout as a run defender, and his leadership on the field is valued.
The free safety is Marcus Williams. Like everyone on this defense, he is an aggressive tackler who attacks the football when it's airborne. Williams has the range to cover far hash to the sideline.
The third safety is P.J. Williams, who will occasionally play in the slot as well. His skill-set isn't as defined or potent as Jenkins' or Marcus Williams', but he is a good rotational backend defender who can execute several defense roles.
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