New Orleans Saints Midseason Awards
Halfway through the 2020 NFL season, the New Orleans Saints sit at 6-2 and atop of the NFC South while winning five games in a row.
At times, it was a little bit rocky getting to this point as they began the season with a bang by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in New Orleans but then lost two straight at Las Vegas and back at home against the Green Bay Packers.
The questions surrounding Drew Brees and whether or not he was physically finished began to swirl, his passing air yards became an issue, and people were beginning to wonder if this defense was really any good.
Over their five-game winning streak, it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows as they've had to overcome deficits, they've been pushed to overtime twice, and the secondary has been beaten bad at times.
However, they've been able to wade the storm and finished out the first half with one of their most impressive victories in recent memory with a thrashing of the Bucs in Tampa Bay.
With all that being said let's take a look at who's been most valuable to the Saints, who needs to step up, and more halfway through this crazy 2020 season.
MVP: Alvin Kamara, RB
AK-All DAY baby, Alvin got paid at the very end of this off-season and he's rewarded the Saints by transforming back to his form from year-one and two after an injury-plagued season in 2019. He's leading the team in rushing with 471 yards and receiving with 565 yards on 60 catches already. Dealing with the loss of Michael Thomas for the better part of six games wasn't easy to overcome but having Kamara made the offense go being their deadly weapon.
MOST IMPROVED: Trey Hendrickson, DE
Would you believe me if at the beginning of the season I told you that Trey Hendrickson, not Cam Jordan would lead the Saints in sacks at the halfway point? How about if I told you that he would be third in the NFL midway through? Don't worry, I wouldn't have believed myself either. He's been awesome though, while the defense has taken its sweet time to find its footing Hendrickson has been all gas, no brakes. He's racked up 7.5 sacks, 18 total tackles (one-off his career-best only eight games in), eight tackles for loss, and 13 QB hits which are both already career highs along with the sacks.
BEST ROOKIE PERFORMER: Cesar Ruiz, OL
The Saints chose to upgrade their offensive line unit with their first pick in the 2020 NFL draft by selecting Michigan product Cesar Ruiz and boy has he turned out to be a solid youngster. The first-year pro has played in seven of eight games with four starts and during that time he's been reliable. According to Pro Football Focus, his overall grade isn't great sitting at 52 but if you look closer he hasn't been flagged for any penalties yet (seems like a miracle for a Saint), he hasn't allowed a sack, only allowed two hits on Brees, and given up just 16 pressures out of 385 snaps played.
NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, DB
The second-year pro has shown better boxing abilities than play on the field at times during the games and practice for that matter. He showed a lot of promise and poise as a rookie in 2019 but has been a bit slow to the party in year-two, he's a talented guy and the hope is that he'll turn it on in the second half. However, via PFF, when targeted in coverage opposing quarterbacks have about a 109 passer rating, he's missed 10 tackles, has yet to intercept a pass, and has allowed 8.2 yards per reception. His overall grade currently sits at 52, let's hope he does indeed figure some things out and makes a 180 in the second half of the season.
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