By John DeShazier
New Orleans Saints
METARIE, La —Demario Davis signed with the New Orleans Saints as an unrestricted free agent in 2018 in large part because quarterback Drew Brees helmed one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history, and Davis never had played with a quarterback and offense that had been as accomplished and effective, one that ranked in the top nine in yards per game for 14 straight seasons, from 2006-19.
Five seasons later it wouldn’t at all be a surprise if, in large part, the reason free agents signed up to join the Saints is because of the resume Davis and the defense have constructed under Coach Dennis Allen, who served as defensive coordinator from 2015-21.
Of course, New Orleans expects its offense to produce, beginning with Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Quarterback Jameis Winston is healthy after tearing his left ACL in the seventh game last season. Receiver Michael Thomas, the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, expect to be ready and healthy for the first time since that season, and he’ll be joined by newcomers Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave at the position. The offensive line appears settled, despite the injury to rookie left tackle Trevor Penning. And running back Alvin Kamara is prepared to make everything right if everything is wrong, or even better if it’s operating at peak efficiency.
But the identity of the team currently is linked to the unit charged with stopping the opponent, the one that led New Orleans to a 9-8 record last season, when the team went through four starters at quarterback, four kickers, no snaps from Thomas (ankle surgery and rehab) and an NFL-record 58 starters.