Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan was afforded the chance Friday night to predict his team would win its division this season. But he preferred to up the ante.
Jordan outright predicted the Saints would win Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona, which is fewer than 40 miles away from where he grew up in Chandler.
“This is the year I get a Super Bowl,” Jordan told NFL Total Access host Lindsay Rhodes when she asked him if he thought the Saints would win the NFC South back from Carolina, the champions of the division in 2013. “Cam Jordan going back home to Arizona, Super Bowl in Arizona.”
The colorful and outspoken Jordan is not the first Saint — current or former — to predict New Orleans will have a big year in 2014. Safety Rafael Bush, right tackle Zach Strief and even former quarterback Archie Manning were among those who have gone on the record recently about how they think this season’s version of the Saints is as loaded with talent as any before it, including the one that won Super Bowl XLIV.
But they all said there were lots of factors to account for before they’d put themselves on the championship podium, such as the team’s ability to both stay healthy and gel together after the offseason. Much less reserved was Jordan, who made his first career Pro Bowl last season after recording 12.5 quarterback sacks, fifth-most in the NFL.
Jordan listed off a number of reasons to support his claim. There’s the free-agent acquisition of three-time safety Jairus Byrd, whose 22 interceptions since entering the league in 2009 are the most among players at his position. There’s the fact safety Kenny Vaccaro is going into his second year with more experience after already standing out as a rookie in 2013, and a defensive line that was effective at rushing opposing passers last season essentially stayed intact.
After the defense surrendered the fourth-fewest yards in the NFL in his first season with the Saints last year, its coordinator Rob Ryan is back for a second campaign. It’d been a while since something like that had occurred — the Saints played under three different coordinators from 2011-13, Jordan’s first three seasons in New Orleans and the NFL.
“Coordinator for the second year — that’s a first in my stint with the Saints,” Jordan said as he chuckled.
Then, on the other side of the ball, still calling the signals is quarterback Drew Brees, who leads the NFL in passing yards (10,339) and is second in touchdown throws (82) since 2012.
And the Saints on Tuesday locked up All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham to a four-year contract extension, ensuring the long-term retention of a player who leads players at his position in catches (270) as well as receiving yardage (3,507) and tops the NFL in touchdown grabs (36).
“We have the team in place,” Jordan said. “We have an offense, we have Drew Brees, we have Jim Graham now, he’s happy, and that’s a huge thing for us.”
Jordan and the Saints report to their first portion of training camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia on Thursday. They’ll be looking to improve upon a 2013 campaign that saw them win 12 of 18 games and reach the divisional round of the playoffs, their third postseason appearance since winning Super Bowl XLIV in February 2010.