Leaders in pressure rate since Wk 5:
1. New Orleans – 48%
2. Pittsburgh – 46%
3. Tampa Bay – 45%
Marcus Davenport has made a BIG impact since his return pic.twitter.com/WlgrD32eWp
— PFF (@PFF) November 10, 2020
How important has Marcus Davenport been for the New Orleans Saints defense? The third-year pass rusher was frustrated by injuries early this season, and didn’t dress out for a game until Week 5 — but he’s transformed the Saints pass rush since getting on the field.
Pro Football Focus credits the Saints with a league-high pressure rate of 48% since Davenport’s Week 5 debut, above a couple of ferocious defenses like T.J. Watt’s Pittsburgh Steelers (46%) and Shaquill Barrett’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (45%).
Sure, Davenport’s personal numbers won’t blow you away: PFF has charted him with 15 total pressures in four games, including just two sacks (remember, they round half-sacks up to full-sacks). But the force he adds to the Saints’ defensive line helps everyone around him, including fellow defensive ends Trey Hendrickson and Cameron Jordan.
Hendrickson ranks third in the NFL in sacks, with four sacks and 17 total pressures since Davenport’s return. He and Davenport have been splitting reps at an almost even 50/50. Across from (and sometimes next to) them, Jordan has collected 20 pressures in that same time, including a pair of sacks.
Davenport’s influence extends to the interior line, too. Defensive tackle David Onyemata only has one sack to his credit in their last four games, but he’s totaled 15 pressures in his own right. And as we’ve seen in the team pressure rate, the Saints are playing their best football with Davenport in the fold.
Here’s hoping he can stay healthy the rest of the way. He’s shed the “Two Firsts” moniker given his high level of play, but Davenport is one of several young defenders the Saints will need firing on full cylinders in the playoffs, along with cornerback Marshon Lattimore. These players are so talented and have such high potential that they can win games on their own, or put teammates in position to do so. We just need to see it when it matters most.