In the wake of Drew Brees' retirement, the leadership void inside the Saints locker room was massive. Still, the Saints have Demario Davis and his leadership is undeniable.
You see it, hear it, sense it, and even as a spectator, you gravitate towards it!
Davis is not perfect. In fact, no hero is. Just ask Drew Brees. All heroes must overcome, to become.
DEMARIO'S IMPACT ON THE SAINTS
New Orleans has had significant talent at the linebacker position in the franchise's history. Four guys named the 'Dome Patrol' with Jackson, Swilling, Johnson, and Mills will always first place with Saints and NFL fans. But the acquisition of Jonathan Vilma and signing of Demario Davis gave renewed leadership within the unit's ranks. Initially he was paired with LB A.J. Klein, and the two started making plays for New Orleans.
I recall how the team was starving for a playmaking middle linebacker before the trade for Vilma. Years later, the void was there once again, but a quiet free-agent signing of Demario Davis was a tremendous win for Mickey Loomis' scouting team.
The fact that both Vilma and Davis came from the Jets adds a sprinkle of file' to the Saints' linebacking gumbo.
DEMARIO ON THE YOUNG LINEBACKERS
As Davis calmly walked in to meet with Saints media Thursday afternoon wearing a "dif-fer-ent" hoodie. For a man in his own right is different, Demario stood there poised, confident, engaging, and spoke optimism about the return of Kwon Alexander and the Saints' young linebackers.
"We have a group of young, hungry linebackers — all of them athletic, all of them are smart," Davis commented. "It's been an interesting group to work with."
Currently, Demario leads a young corps of linebackers who are quickly developing into an exceptional group. Along with Davis and Alexander, linebackers Zack Baun, Pete Werner, Kaden Elliss, Chase Hansen, and Andrew Dowell appear close in the roster battle.
But to have his "partner in crime" — Kwon Alexander — back in action after tearing his Achilles on Christmas is a blessing for the team and Demario.
DEMARIO ON KWON ALEXANDER
"Kwon's a beast. He's played at a high level in this league for a long time, and he came in and made an instant impact. That's why it was so important for us to bring him back...he makes our defense better as a whole."
Alexander and Davis' chemistry make them one of the best linebacking tandems in the NFL. They feed off of one another's energy and passion, but also, they understand and respect the other.
"He wanted to be back" in New Orleans noted Davis.
RESPECTED IN THE NFL
Demario's NFL peers ranked him at #64 in the 2021 version of the NFL's Top 100 - up from #67 in 2020. The All-Pro linebacker garners respect and admiration for his social and charitable work off-the-field of play. Davis stays busy.
This summer, he was featured in a documentary focusing on minorities' inequalities within America's judicial system.
Also, he and his wife Tamela opened her food truck to the New Orleans community for their "Dinner with the Davises'" outreach program.
The couple will incorporate a COVID-19 vaccine portion of the "Dinner with the Davises" evening with the help of Winn Dixie Pharmacy.
2021's CHALLENGE FOR DAVIS
Drew Brees and Sean Payton were the attractions for Davis' interest in signing with New Orleans. He wonder how one of the league's best offenses still had struggles winning and wondered if it was a defensive issue.
"On my arrival, I realized that how well the defense is coached," mentioned Davis. He believes the goal is to have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Since 2018, New Orleans' defense has improved from 14th (2018) to 4th (2020) with Demario Davis on the field.
He said, being one the top defenses "requires a lot of work, individually, being able to play at a high level,...but also pay attention to the chemistry, the culture, and challenging other guys."
2021 will be a challenging year for Davis and his band of brothers on defense. This season may be one of the first in recent memory where the Saints will need to rely on their defense over the offense.
Therefore, can Demario Davis lead with DE Cam Jordan, S Malcolm Jenkins, DT David Onyemata, CB Marshon Lattimore, DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S Marcus Williams, and others to support a new quarterback leader in either Winston or Hill?
We shall see.
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