Yesterday, Canal Street Chronicles managing editor Chris Dunnells helped us get to know the Saints offense a little better. But everybody knows a little bit about the Saints offense! What you might not know quite as well is their defense, which has been improving and a tad underrated the last few seasons.
To help us shore up our understanding of the group that will try to be making things difficult for Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, Chris was kind enough to return for another round of questions.
Acme Packing Company: This is a very broad question, but given the reputation the Saints have for big-time offense, their defense can be overshadowed. What’s the short version of the story of this defense as a whole?
Chris Dunnells: The Saints haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Samaje Perine in 2017. This run defense is incredibly stout and often underrated by the national media. Former Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore plays at his best when guarding the NFL’s best, so I’m sure he hopes Davante Adams suits up Sunday Night. Janoris Jenkins is one of the better #2 cornerbacks in the league, but both Jenkins and Lattimore can get a little handsy, so be ready to yell at your television screen when you see a little bit of hand-fighting and a flag does or doesn’t get thrown.
APC: Who’s the top player Packers fans should be aware of and who’s a guy that might make a difference that we may not have heard much about?
CD: I’m just going to say it: Demario Davis is the most underrated player in the NFL. He’s been an absolute beast since joining the New Orleans Saints, and what he brings to the Saints both on the field and in the locker room cannot be emphasized enough. He is decent in coverage, above-average at rushing the quarterback, and excellent and plugging up holes in the run game.
But speaking of plugging up holes in the run game, a player you might not be familiar with is second-year defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson. He plays a bit of everything on the Saints defense, playing both safety positions as well as nickel corner. He absolutely loves playing in the box and he’s one of the best tacklers on this team. At the same time, he also has above-average ball skills, and has a nose for the football both in the air and in opposing ball carrier’s hands.
APC: If you were Matt LaFleur, how would you attack the Saints defense?
CD: Stick to the run enough to force defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to think he can sell out to stop it, and then attack Janoris Jenkins early and often. Even if you don’t get the chunk plays, you’ll probably still get a few pass interference calls to help you along the way.
APC: What’s your prediction for Sunday’s game?
CD: I think the Packers offense is the better unit right now. I’ll say Green Bay, 31-24.