Per Ian Rapoport, Ziggy Ansah and the Seattle Seahawks have landed a 1-year $9M base deal to bring him to the Pacific Northwest. Many Saints fans are disappointed by the move because there was hope that Ansah would find his way to New Orleans to play a rotational role with second-year edge rusher Marcus Davenport. Some Saints fans are so disappointed that they’ve even begun to question the true effectiveness of the Saints’ offseason so far. Which got me to wondering, should the Saints missing out on, or choosing not to sign, Ziggy really change the perception of the otherwise impressive offseason? I think to find the answer, we must reform the question. I prefer to ask “Does relying more heavily on Marcus Davenport really change the perception of the Saints’ impressive offseason?”
I introduce the idea that New Orleans simply passed on Ansah not as a means of trying to smooth the wrinkle here, but instead because it is quite possible. Considering the extensive amount of work they did with Ansah in bringing him in for a visit and awaiting his medicals, it is possible that they weren’t sold. Perhaps they didn’t see it worth the risk of his recovery for the reward of his productivity; 18 sacks over the last three seasons which include two sub-five sack years. Especially at the potential price of $13M.
But that aside, let’s assume that the Saints did “miss out” on Ansah. In order to truly consider that impact, we should take into consideration a couple of compounding factors. The Saints are, of course, in need of a rotational pass rusher because of the loss of Alex Okafor who chose to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs before they traded for Seattle’s Frank Clark which then opened the door for Ziggy to the Seahawks. That brings us to my question about relying more on first-rounder Marcus Davenport.So let’s start by taking a look at Davenport’s production and how it could be affected with an absence of a half-time rotational share. For this exercise, we’ll assume that Trey Hendrickson, Porter Gustin, or Corbin Kaufusi take half of Okafor’s share of snaps while Davenport picks up the rest.
Looking strictly at the games in which both Davenport and Okafor appeared (this excludes weeks 9 to 11), here are their stats each and combined:
Marcus Davenport: 416 Snaps, 22 Tackles, 6 Tackles for a Loss, 28 Total Pressures, 4.5 Sacks and 1 Forced Fumble
Alex Okafor: 540 Snaps, 29 Tackles, 2 Tackles for a Loss, 28 Total Pressures, 2 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble
Combined: 956 Snaps, 51 Tackles, 8 for a Loss, 56 Total Pressures, 6.5 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles
Now let’s say that part of replacing Okafor becomes giving Davenport half of his snaps while the other half go to workloads for whomever wins the rotational job. If we average out all of Davenport’s snaps over the 13 games he played and approximate that average to the increased workload over those games, this is what his stat line looks like compared to the combined efforts of he and Okafor.
Marcus Davenport: 686 Snaps, 36 Tackles, 10 Tackles for a Loss, 46 Total Pressures, 7.5 Sacks, 1-2 Forced Fumbles
2018 Combined: 956 Snaps, 51 Tackles, 8 for a Loss, 56 Total Pressures, 6.5 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles
Now, 686 snaps over 13 games (52 snaps a game) isn’t out of the ordinary at all. If you look at the games in which Cam Jordan played a full share of snaps, he averaged 61 per game in the 13 games he played more than 32 snaps. Davenport seems to have a similar threshold in terms of his productivity. Out of the 13 games he played last season, he played 35 or more snaps in four of them. During that time he compiled exactly half of his season’s pressures with 14, 3.5 of his 4.5 sacks, and 4 of his 8 QB Hits.
Safe to say that Davenport, who I and many others have consistently referenced as a breakout candidate for this season, should be able to dispel any notions that Ziggy not signing in New Orleans will at all be detrimental to the success of the Saints’ offseason. While it remains to be seen what Davenport will actually do with his extended opportunities in 2019, looking at his per-snap productivity and efficiency with an increased workload should hopefully put some minds at ease.
Another compounding factor for this offseason is the loss of Mark Ingram vs. the acquisition of Latavius Murray and the increased workload for Alvin Kamara. But I’ll tackle that in another article coming soon.
Follow Ross on Twitter @RossJacksonASC