METAIRIE, La. -- The way Cameron Jordan figures it, he might have to invent a new statistic that helps to define his versatility.
“I’m trying to get this triple-double,” the New Orleans Saints veteran defensive end said of his 10 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and somewhere between 6-8 pass defenses, depending on whether he gets proper credit for his latest batted pass in Sunday’s 31-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Nobody else in the NFL has numbers that high in each category.
“I’m trying to Euro step my way to a NBA number,” Jordan said.
If Jordan isn’t in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, then folks aren’t having the right conversation.
The 6-foot-4, 287-pounder has been a driving force behind the Saints’ defensive revival this year by doing his usual little bit of everything -- sacks, pressures, run stuffs, tackles for loss and batted passes. He even had his first career interception for a touchdown in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions.
He has been as important to the Saints’ 9-3 start as anyone on the roster while playing more than 90 percent of their defensive snaps.
But Jordan knows as well as anyone that defensive ends are judged by sacks, first and foremost. And his 10 sacks are only tied for seventh in the NFL right now.
“Before I start tooting my own horn -- I’m not gonna do it -- I don’t know a defensive end who’s doing what I’m doing,” Jordan said with a mix of his usual playful humor and some pent-up frustration.
The seventh-year pro didn’t even make his third Pro Bowl last year when Pro Football Focus rated him as the third-best edge rusher in the league. He had just 7.5 sacks and the Saints had just seven wins.
“I think he’s the best all-around defensive end in the National Football League,” Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said. “I think too many times people just pick up the stat sheet or look at the fantasy football stats, and all everybody ever wants to look at is, ‘How many sacks does a guy have?’ But what Cam Jordan brings to the table is way more than that for us and the defense.
“He’s constantly a pressure player, he plays relentless, he plays a ton of snaps. He plays the run and the pass equally well. I just think as far as all-around defensive ends, I think you’re hard-pressed to find anybody that’s better than him.”
The entire Saints’ defense has played better this year -- which has helped to improve both the Saints’ win total and Jordan’s sack total.
Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore and the improved secondary have allowed the Saints’ pass rush to get home more often. And Jordan credited fellow defensive linemen like DTs Sheldon Rankins, Tyeler Davison and David Onyemata -- plus the now-injured DE Alex Okafor -- for making his job easier.
“When I have an interior like mine ... it allows me to enjoy not having to worry about anybody else and focusing on the man in front of me -- whatever speed bump that may be,” Jordan said after he drew two personal-foul face mask penalties against Panthers’ offensive tackle Matt Kalil on Sunday -- another game-changer that won’t show up on the stat sheet.
It’s the batted pass that might be the most underrated part of Jordan’s game, though. Since his second year in 2012, Jordan ranks eighth in the NFL with 55.5 sacks and fifth with 25 batted passes.
Only J.J. Watt has more of both.
“Honestly, when you have that interior push and that awareness of your two interior rushers and you’re able to lock into that vision, it’s everything [you can do to be disruptive],” Jordan said. “Whether it’s pressure, whether it’s batted balls, at the end of the day it’s just affecting the quarterback. And I’d like to be great at it.”