Cameron Jordan elevates his game when Saints need it most

New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrates his sack of Carolina Panthers...
New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrates his sack of Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. The Saints won 18-10. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)(Derick Hingle | AP)
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 12:23 PM CST
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You can call it an uptick in production. You can call it a bounce back or a rebound. But don’t pretend we haven’t seen this from Cameron Jordan before.

“You said breakout,” Jordan said with a laugh as he joked about a question about his recent surge in performance.

The Saints veteran defensive end isn’t here for anyone saying he’s gone anywhere or had a dip in production. In his words, this recent run of success is a big product of his fellow defensive linemen.

“Earlier this year, I was missing Marcus (Davenport),” says Jordan. “I was missing David Onyemata. Once my D-line came back, we came back strong. When you’re catching those double-teams or triple-teams early on in the season, it can bog you down. Marcus comes back and gets a little bit of pressure and starts to get some sacks. They can no longer focus on just me. David Onyemata comes back, and they can no longer focus on just me and Marcus.”

He totaled four sacks for the first 12 games of the season. Then Jordan misses one week with Covid-19. Then he comes back and starts his run of 7.5 sacks over the last three games alone. Maybe the week off gave him some energy. Or maybe he’s just finding something deeper within when his team needs him most.

“He’s played well for a long time here,” says head coach Sean Payton when asked if it’s one of the best stretches he’s “ever” seen from Jordan. “So it’d be hard to give it one of those ‘evers.’ But he’s certainly playing awfully well. And it’s been important to how we play defensively. It’s been important to how we play as a team. It’s been impressive.”

“To have a presence like that on the edge and then to be able to have a dominant presence up front with him, you can feed off that,” says safety CJ Gardner-Johnson. “When the quarterback has to worry about Cam and not the whole defense, it makes everybody play at a high level.”

And taking it a step further, Jordan emphasized that he takes pride in playing a complete game, and knows he does regardless of what the sack numbers say.

“As long as my hands are here, my teammates will tell you somebody’s going to get blessed,” says Jordan. “Sacks are phenomenal. I think that’s an amazing aspect of the game. But I’m not here just to play third down. I’m here for first down. I’m here for traps. I’m here from powers. I’m here for tosses. I’m not worried about chatter from people who don’t know all the aspects of the game.”

With Cam Jordan’s resurgence, plus one of the healthiest stretches of Marcus Davenport’s career, this is what the Saints envisioned their defensive front looking like, able to apply pressure from all sides. They’ll have to continue playing at this level next week in Atlanta to give their team the best chance at reaching the playoffs.

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