I'm not sure that there is a more underappreciated defensive lineman in the league than the Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan.
Yeah, he's made two Pro Bowls, but only in the two years where he had double-digit sacks. But the thing is Jordan is a fucking game wrecker and his impact can't always be measured solely by statistics. I am sure some folks overlook him because the Saints have only had a winning record in two of his six seasons in the NFL. Not coincidentally, their defense has only ranked higher than 26th in points allowed twice in that same time frame. The Saints going 7-9 in four of those six seasons probably hasn't helped either.
But if you weren't aware of how good Jordan is before, for whatever reason, you should definitely get familiar.
First of all, while stats aren't the end all, be all, Jordan's career numbers are not too shabby. To date he has 51.5 sacks, and other than his rookie year Jordan doesn't have a single season with fewer than 7.5 sacks. That's even with the Saints changing defenses several times, constantly moving him all around on the defensive line. He also hasn't missed a game and started every one, except for one his rookie year, in six seasons and five games. That kind of consistency is a lot harder to find than you realize.
Jordan's film is still way more impressive than just his numbers. His versatility, for instance, is something that shows up every week. Jordan is 6'4 and 287 pounds. He is plenty big enough to play inside, but he is also athletic enough to be hell on the edge.
You will usually find Jordan out on the edge more than inside, but no matter where he lines up he's a fucking problem. Jordan is also as strong as a damn ox. He can run over you or around you, but he seems to take particular delight in option A. Jordan will run slap over you whether you are a tackle or a guard.
He's equal opportunity that way.
One of my favorite things from the brief Rob Ryan era in New Orleans was this defense where he would have Jordan line up like 5 yards off the line of scrimmage, but in a sprinter"s stance. On the snap of the football Jordan would get up a 5-yard head of steam and explode into opposing offensive linemen.
I'm not sure if I ever saw Jordan get a sack out of that defense, but I definitely saw several offensive linemen go flying in the air after contact.
While Jordan can toss offensive linemen around with ease, he's also such a good athlete and football player that you can also, as a defensive coordinator, feel comfortable with him doing stuff like dropping into pass coverage. He's the total package straight up, and he showed that again on Sunday in a win over the Lions.
You want to talk brute strength? Just look at both of Jordan's sacks.
The first one came early in the second half with the Lions facing a third-and-5 from their own 49-yard line. Jordan lined up at left defensive end in a five-technique on the outside shoulder of Lions right tackle Ricky Wagner. On the snap, Jordan stunted inside to the B gap where left guard Emmett Cleary was waiting for him.
I have never actually seen a freight train smash into a Mini Cooper, but I'd imagine it closely resembled Jordan running right through Cleary's chest. After he mushed Cleary back about 5 yards, Jordan was able to easily reach out and take Stafford down for the sack.
Now that looked bad, but at least Jordan didn't straight-up embarrass Cleary.
He reserved that honor for Lions backup right tackle Brian Mihalik.
With just under a minute left in the third quarter, the Lions found themselves facing a second-and-10 from the Saints' 15-yard line. Jordan was once again lined up at left defensive end, but this time he was across from Mihalik who had come in for Wagner. Unfortunately for Mihalik, this time Jordan would not be stunting inside, but rather right down the middle of his chest.
It’s one thing when a guy gets good push on an offensive tackle, that actually happens quite a bit. But I can't think of many other times I've seen a defensive lineman violently shove an offensive lineman into a quarterback at the end of a bull rush the way Jordan did Mihalik. He may as well have picked Mihalik up and thrown him at Stafford because both Mihalik and Stafford ended up on their backs for one of the most disrespectful sacks you are ever going to see. If it happened in a video game, the narrator would've pronounced it a flawless victory.
It was glorious.
Listen mane, Jordan sacked a MFer with another MFer and we need that on a meme asap!
So yeah, its safe to say he's strong af, but Jordan made other plays against Detroit that also showed off his athleticism.
How about the tackle he made just over the midway point of the first quarter?
Jordan was standing up like a 3-4 outside linebacker and he has a zone drop carrying the tight end up the seam. But once Jordan saw Lions wide receiver Golden Tate running an underneath route, he stuck his foot in the ground, quickly broke on the football, and tackled Tate about as well as you will see most full-time linebackers do it. People his size aren't supposed to move like that!
And then there was the interception for a touchdown to shut the door on the Lions’ comeback attempt with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. This time Jordan was lined up as a three-technique on the right side, but he ended up looping to the left A gap after the snap. As he was moving to his left, he was able to track Stafford's throwing motion and stick his hand up in the path of the football to tip the ball in the air.
In and of itself, that takes a lot of hand-eye coordination. Jordan was able to not only tip the ball in the air, but also secure the catch like it was nothing.
I tell you what, though, three other plays Jordan made on Sunday are the perfect embodiment of what he brings to the table every week above and beyond statistics. None of those plays will show up in the stat sheet, but both of them show how Jordan can destroy the opposing team's blocking and allow his teammate to make big plays.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lions had a first-and-10 from the Saints' 45-yard line. Jordan was once again at left defensive end in a five-technique. Before the snap, the Lions motioned Michael Roberts, one of their backup tight ends, over to line up just outside of Jordan. Then on the snap, the plan was to have Roberts block Jordan inside, while the right tackle Wagner and the center Travis Swanson pulled outside to lead the way for running back Ameer Abdullah on a sweep.
What actually happened was Jordan shot upfield, barely acknowledging Roberts' attempt at blocking him, pushed Wagner deeper into the backfield, then taking on Swanson before attempting to tackle Abdullah for a loss. He wasn't quite able to take Abdullah down, but Jordan was able to grab a hold of Abdullah's shirt and hold on for dear life, which allowed his teammates to keep Abdullah from getting back to the line of scrimmage.
Somebody is going to get credit for a tackle for a loss on that play, but it probably won't be Jordan. However, there is no doubt who created that tackle for a loss opportunity on film.
This third play was just all about good old-fashioned hustle. And y’all know how much I love cats who hustle.
With a little less than five minutes left in the game, Jordan lined up as the right defensive end and ran a TEX game with Alex Okafor who was lined up inside him as a three-technique. As Jordan was looping inside to the right A gap, Lions running back Theo Riddick first chipped off the edge and ran a route where he first angled outside, then angled inside within about 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. As Stafford stared to throw the ball to Riddick, Jordan made a beeline in the same direction trying to make the tackle.
Riddick wasn't able to catch the ball cleanly. He saw Jordan coming to take his f'n head off and made a business decision to duck rather than try to corral the wayward football. As a result, the ball bounced right into the hands of Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro who returned it 11 yards to the New Orleans 43-yard line.
Did Jordan make the interception? No. But does the interception get made without Jordan hustling, forcing Riddick into his turtle imitation?
I think tf not.
The third play was right at the end of the game. The Lions were facing a third-and-18 and Jordan was again lined up as the left defensive end in a five-technique. On the snap he stunted inside, as he had done previously, but this time instead of running over the backup right guard Tim Lelito, Jordan opted for an equally effective quick swim move.
Jordan beat Lelito like a Cherokee drum and had a straight path to Stafford to take him down again, but Stafford felt Jordan coming this time so he tried to scramble up in the pocket to avoid him. Stafford ended up running right into the arms of blitzing Saints defensive back Vonn Bell who came through untouched behind Jordan's path of destruction.
Again, Jordan isn't going to be credited for a sack on that play, but Bell ought to send him a thank you note.
All told, I had Jordan with two sacks, four other tackles, an interception for a touchdown, a pass breakup and three hurries, and, as I pointed out, several other impactful plays that didn't make the stat sheet.
Against the Lions, Cam Jordan once again showed why he is one of the best defensive linemen in the league, bar none, earning Hoss Of The Week honors for Week 6 of the NFL season.
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