DE Jordan does his job in loss to Redskins
METAIRIE — On a unit that yielded beaucoup points and yards to the previously punchless Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints second-year defensive end Cameron Jordan stood his ground for first-year coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Jordan registered a career-best 13 tackles in the 40-32 season-opening loss at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a situation the Saints hope to rectify Sunday against the Carolina Panthers (0-1) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Aside from Jordan, there were few other bright spots on a Saints defense that surrendered 464 yards and was humbled by Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who completed 19 of 26 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns for a gaudy 139.9 passer rating.
“I’m glad you brought that up. I agree with you 100 percent,’’ Spagnuolo told a reporter Friday. “(Jordan) has been like that all training camp. He has been climbing steadily as a good football player. I actually mentioned that before the game, and I did think he played very solid.
“That will help us. We need that. We need all our guys now to continue to do this. The more guys we have going backwards, myself included, the worse off we’re going to be. Cam is one of those guys who has certainly stepped up.”
The Saints will need to be more than a one-man gang Sunday against the Panthers and big-play quarterback Cam Newton, who poses a threat running and passing the football.
With the possibility of going 0-2 for just the second time since Sean Payton’s arrival in 2006, the Saints will have to play much better against the run (Redskins rushed for 153 yards) and pass and be more disciplined in all phases. New Orleans committed 12 penalties for minus-107 yards against the Redskins.
And it all begins up front in Spagnuolo’s 4-3 scheme, which seems to be a perfect fit for Jordan, the 24th overall pick in the 2011 draft.
“You know when a defensive coordinator and a player have two different dreams, they don’t always (mesh) very well,’’ said Jordan, the son of former NFL tight end Steve Jordan, a six-time Pro Bowler with the Minnesota Vikings. “But it’s so great for me, because I see myself as a versatile player and Spags sees me as playing so many different roles, and so we come together.
“I think anything he allows me to do, I can do. I’m all for it. We’re only one game in to my second year, and this is my first year in a new defense, so there should be plenty more of what I exhibited against Washington with many more to come.’’
Spagnuolo’s defense relies heavily on a conventional four-man pass rush from its down linemen, unlike the blitz-happy scheme employed by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has been suspended indefinitely for his role in the bounty scandal.
Under Williams, the pressure came in waves from all areas of the defense, regardless of down and distance. Last season, down linemen accounted for half of the team’s 33 sacks, only one by Jordan who started 15 games.
This season, Jordan said his sack chances should increase exponentially in Spagnuolo’s defense.
“Having a limited role last year, with third downs and passing downs, I don’t really have a ceiling as far as what I can and cannot do,’’ Jordan said. “I’m just ready to be on this defense. I don’t want to put any numbers on it, but I’d hope it’d be in the double digits.”
Saints defensive tackle La’Roi Glover and linebacker Pat Swilling share the club’s single-season sack record with 17 set in 2000 and 1991, respectively.
“I actually like Spags’ front because of the opportunities that we are given within the front,’’ Jordan said. “(Down linemen) have an immense amount of opportunities because it’s a four-man front, whereas last year we had so many types of fronts, so many types of schemes, so many zone blitzes and all, we were doing a whole bunch of that.
“We didn’t have the opportunities that we should have this year. The opportunities were there against Washington (Saints had one sack, from cornerback Patrick Robinson), and I’m sure they will keep popping up over the next 15 games.’’
WR Devery Henderson, who suffered a concussion in last week’s game against Washington, won’t play Sunday, interim coach Aaron Kromer said. Henderson has not practiced this week. ... Also out for Sunday are DE Turk McBride (ankle) and CB Johnny Patrick (thigh). CB Jabari Greer (groin) and SLB Scott Shanle (knee) are questionable after both practiced fully Friday. ... For the Panthers, WR Steve Smith (knee) and RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) were limited in practice Friday and are questionable for the game. G Mike Pollak (shoulder) did not work Friday and is doubtful, while DE Greg Hardy (illness) and C Jeff Byers (knee) had full participation are are probable. … The Saints and Panthers will play for the 35th time on Sunday, with the teams splitting the first 34 games.