Jordan Highlights 5 Saints Traveling To Hawaii
Although the season ended in an unsatisfying way for the New Orleans Saints, five players will get the opportunity to show off their skills one more time when they participate in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Among the Saints awarded the honor are QB Drew Brees, TE Jimmy Graham, LG Ben Grubbs, RG Jahri Evans and DE Cameron Jordan.
An offensive player who deserved a nod for a trip to Honolulu was RB Pierre Thomas, who had a career year. Unfortunately for Thomas, he plays a position where there is an abundance of star players.
Defensively, it can be argued that CB Keenan Lewis deserved to be there. He was very instrumental in turning the Saints dormant 2012 defense into a stalwart unit this season. Lewis had a career high four interceptions this season.
Brees has been a perennial Pro Bowler since joining the Saints and is making his seventh appearance. Brees finished second in passing yards and touchdowns behind Denver's Peyton Manning, and second behind San Diego's Philip Rivers in completion percentage.
Graham led the league in essentially every category a tight end can hold including total yards, touchdowns, yards after catch and receptions exceeding 20 yards. This will be Graham’s second selection, the first coming back in 2011.
Evans earned his fifth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl, while Grubbs was selected to his second - his first as a Saint. These two were definitely question marks given that they, along with the rest of the Saints offensive line, showed inconsistency at times during the year.
The guy who stood out the most this year was Jordan, who was selected to his first career Pro Bowl. Jordan had a breakout year and gained national attention on a Thursday night game in late November against the division rival Carolina Panthers, a game where he registered 2.5 sacks. Two weeks later, Jordan stole the spotlight on Sunday Night Football against Carolina when he recorded two more sacks.
After recording a combined nine sacks in his first two seasons, Jordan erupted into a force, recording 12.5 sacks this season, good enough for fourth in the NFL. The last Saint to record double-digit sacks was Will Smith back in 2009. During his two postseason games, Jordan had 2.5 sacks. In addition, he led the Saints in tackles for loss and hits to the quarterback. You combine all these superlatives and it equates to Jordan being the MVP of the New Orleans defense.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan deserves a lot of credit for the monstrous year that Jordan posted. Under his tutelage, the Saints defense was transformed into a 3-4 scheme that allowed Jordan to run rampant at the opposing QB. It was expected that he would be well improved under this style of defense, given that he played in this scheme while attending college. Jordan’s lack of quickness on the outside while playing in a 4-3 scheme hampered his ability to excel.
This season, while playing on the inside of the defensive line, Jordan has displayed agility, speed and athleticism which have been crucial to his success. He may not be the most nimble guy out there but he has wonderful agility which allows him to slice through gaps, providing him a quicker route to the quarterback.
Moreover, with Ryan’s blitz-heavy defensive attack in place, Jordan was provided the opportunity to dart at the QB at a more frequent clip. Also, with all the different defensive fronts that Ryan employs, opposing teams had difficulty picking up on how much pressure was coming and Jordan took advantage of the slight hesitation displayed by opposing linemen by exploding off the line and making it to the QB with relative ease.
The Saints are hoping that Jordan, along with LB Junior Galette, will provide the team with a dominating force along the defensive front. With the explosive offense they put forth every game, a stout defense will keep New Orleans in contention for the Super Bowl for years to come.