New Orleans Saints need Marcus Davenport to break out in 2020

The Saints offense gets all the headlines, but New Orleans defense needs Marcus Davenport to become a star in 2020 to make a run to the Super Bowl.

Drew Brees and the prolific Saints’ offense makes them a threat to win every game they play. If New Orleans is going to take a big step forward in 2020, they’ll need their defense to become just as dangerous as their star-studded offense. To make that happen, the Saints need more from defensive end Marcus Davenport.

The organization made a big move to nab Davenport with a first round pick in the 2018 draft with the idea that he could become a dominant pass rusher. That certainly hasn’t happened to date. He’s only managed to notch 10.5 sacks in two seasons. In fairness, he did up his production to a respectable level with 6.5 sacks in just 13 games during the 2019 season.

That puts them well behind Cameron Jordan in terms of becoming the team’s top edge rusher. Jordan logged 15.5 sacks a season ago. His effectiveness gives Davenport a lot of chances to work against single blockers on obvious passing downs. The Saints coaching staff understands that Davenport needs to win more of those battles in 2020.

Defensive coach Ryan Nielsen is optimistic that Davenport can make meaningful progress this year. He claims the former UTSA star “made a big step last season.” Nielsen also believes Davenport is putting in the requisite work to come back as a bigger, stronger player in 2020.

Part of Davenport’s challenge will be to prove that he can stay healthy for a full 16-game slate. He’s missed multiple games during both of his two seasons as a professional. The Saints need him to show he can stand up to the rigors of a full NFL regular-season and lengthy playoff run.

He also needs to improve his ratio of achieving one sack every other game. The Saints’ prolific offense gives their defense a ton of opportunities to work against offenses that need to depend on the pass to keep games competitive. That, combined with Jordan’s presence on the other end sets Davenport up for big-time success.

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In the end, the Saints need Davenport to prove that he’s capable of being a consistent double-digit sack artist on an annual basis. Anything less might force the franchise to evaluate other options next offseason. This is a team that’s squarely in win-now mode. They cannot afford to wait for Davenport to develop any longer. 2020 is a make or break year for the talented, but enigmatic edge rusher.

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