Over the last three New Orleans Saints seasons, six quarterbacks have started for the team, including future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, who also retired in that span.
Overcoming injuries at quarterback -- and still searching for Brees' long-term heir apparent -- have become a standard for the club. So too has been the outstanding play of its defense, which has seen its confidence grow no matter the travails.
It's a reason for optimism as Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan and the Saints head into the 2022 campaign looking to return to the playoffs and vying for a fifth consecutive season.
"We were still able to win at such a high clip that our confidence was boosted through that roof," Jordan said of New Orleans going 8-1 in 2019-20 with Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill starting in place of an injured Brees. "We realized that defense can not only sustain games or win games because of us, as well as we can win with a multitude of quarterbacks. That confidence is unreal."
Since 2019, the Saints have had Brees, Bridgewater, Hill, Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian and Ian Book tally starts for them. The uncertainty under center began in 2019 when Brees missed five games due to a hand injury and the Bridgewater-led squad went 5-0.
The Saints were the No. 11 defense in 2019 before nabbing No. 4 and No. 7 rankings in each of the last two years, respectively. Regardless of who was at quarterback, the Saints were in the ballgame because of their defense.
"You go in two seasons ago, go [5-0] with Teddy Bridgewater, next season we go, what was it [3-1] or whatever that is with Tayson Hill," Jordan said. "And then Jameis, we start off 5-1 until he gets injured and then go through three other quarterbacks in a rotation respectively from Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill and Ian Book, and still come out with a 9-8-win season. If other teams had to face that, would they even break .500?"
Coming off his seventh Pro Bowl season, Jordan leads a talent-laden defense that also features standout fixtures Marcus Davenport, Marshon Lattimore and Demario Davis and is welcoming safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye into the mix.
Brees departed after the 2020 season and head coach Sean Payton followed suit in the aftermath of the 2021 campaign. But the defensive core remains and so too does Dennis Allen, who will be in his first season as Saints head coach, but was the franchise's defensive coordinator the previous seven years.
"He's been there a long time, where we know we have established trust," Jordan said. "That trust is something that has to be built over time, and it's already there."
With Winston coming back from an ACL tear, there are still questions and concerns at QB, but Jordan and the Saints D have proven time and again they can lead the way.