Akiem Hicks And Cameron Jordan: The New Dynamic Duo
By Greg Barber
The New Orleans Saints defense has come a long way from being a unit that set records for how horrendous it was to being the fifth-ranked defense in the NFL this season. A lot of this defense’s success has been attributed to new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and the way he was able to come in and get them turned around in such a short time.
No doubt Ryan has been important to the defense’s success, but his strategies would not work without players like DEs Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks.
Jordan is in his third season with the Saints and has played well enough to warrant Pro Bowl consideration, registering 9.5 sacks so far, which puts him 1.5 sacks ahead of where he finished last season with five games still left to play. Although Jordan is not getting a lot of media attention, he is certainly getting attention from opposing offensive lines, as he has been seeing more and more double teams trying to stop him. Regardless of the extra blockers in his path, Jordan still finds his way to the quarterback.
But he is not just a pass rusher.
Jordan is becoming a well-rounded defensive force for the Saints. He has 32 combination tackles, two fumble recoveries and three pass breakups in 2013. This means that Jordan will only become a bigger headache to opposing offenses as he continues to grow and mature as a player.
Hicks is in his second season with the Saints, and has been much better than New Orleans fans anticipated. Hicks never started a game in his first season, but showed a lot of potential whenever he saw the field. This season, Hicks has played very well and is only getting better as the season goes along.
Against the Atlanta Falcons, Hicks had three tackles, five assists and 1.5 sacks. He also recorded four tackles, three assists and one sack in a contest against the San Francisco 49ers. He is definitely getting stronger as each day passes, which means bad things are brewing for opposing offenses.
The Saints defense has 37 quarterback sacks so far this season with Hicks and Jordan accounting for 13 of them. Jordan himself is on pace to record 14 or 15 sacks this year while Hicks will probably end the season with five or six of his own.
Along with a Saints Super Bowl win this season, I am hoping that these two players (and a few others) will get Pro Powl recognition if they continue to play at their present level or better.
The defense is only as good as its line play and the Saints line just has to continue to create pressure on the opposing quarterback and stop the run. The Seattle Seahawks will be looking to run the ball a lot on Monday night, and it will be paramount for New Orleans to minimize their running game.
Jordan and Hicks will play a huge part in making sure that RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Russell Wilson have a bad day at the office. If this dynamic duo has anything to say about it, Seattle fans better prepare to experience a loss at home for the first time in a couple of years.