While the Cleveland Browns' former hoopster is making big plays reminiscent of a young Tony Gonzalez as the most productive tight end not named Jimmy Graham, the New Orleans Saints defensive end is keying the NFL's most impressive turnaround.
Just four teams have allowed fewer points than Rob Ryan's unit through three weeks. This comes on the heels of surrendering a record 440 yards per game under former Saints coordinator Steve Spagnuolo last season.
"Everyone talks about (the Saints losing) Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma," quarterback Carson Palmer said after the Cardinals' Week 3 loss, via TheMMQB.com. "But Cameron Jordan is really good. Junior Galette is really good. They both stop the run and rush the passer. That is a really good combination."
Galette was on our radar as a top "Making the Leap" candidate entering the season, but it's Jordan who is at the heart of the youth movement on the defensive front seven.
We made the point in Sunday night's "Around The League Podcast" recap that Jordan is playing better than any 3-4 defensive end not named J.J. Watt.
Pro Football Focus' player ratings agree. A run-defense specialist prior to Ryan's arrival on the scene, Jordan actually has more quarterback pressures than Watt through three games.
Saints opponents have scored four touchdowns on 33 possessions this season. Of the other 29 possessions, according to numbers compiled by the TheMMQB.com, 20 have ended in punts and six in turnovers.
This defense has yet to face a stiff test, thanks in part to Roddy White's high-ankle sprain, Josh Freeman's scattershot arm and Larry Fitzgerald's gimpy hamstring. That will change with showdowns against the undefeated Dolphins, Bears and Patriots in a 14-day span over the next three weeks.
*The "Around The League Podcast" broke down every Week 3 game. Click here to listen and subscribe. *