What began with Cameron Jordan asking for a chance in 2011, ended – for now, at least – on Sunday with the defensive end making history for the New Orleans Saints.
With three sacks in the Saints' 20-10 victory over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, Jordan, a first-round pick in 2011, became New Orleans' all-time sack leader with 115.5. The previous record of 115 was held by linebacker Rickey Jackson.
"If you look at the last 11 years of my career, after I earned the right to play on third down – you go from rookie year having one sack, starting 15 out of the 16 games, to where I'm at now," Jordan said. "I just needed the opportunity.
"I knew I was a pass rusher, I knew I was an edge rusher and I told them my second year, I told (then-Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson), 'Give me a chance, you'll never have to worry about it.' I came with the mind-set to be the best that I can be. I don't want to just be a pass rusher, though. I'll let you guys label me however you want to, but just know that if there's a first down, second down, third-and-1, I'm going to be on the field. I'm not jetting off the field. I'm fighting for each and every yard. They don't run to my side for a reason."
Jordan, indeed, has established himself as a force against the run. But since his one-sack rookie season, he has been a mainstay in the glamour category of sacks, averaging 10.4 sacks per season and never accumulating less than 7.5 over the last 11 years.
"That's awesome," Coach Dennis Allen said of the milestone. "Cam's been a great ambassador for our organization, for the entire National Football League. He's been a great player and probably an even better person, so I couldn't be happier for a guy. It's an awesome accomplishment."
Sunday's three sacks against the Eagles all were against Gardner Minshew. New Orleans totaled six sacks against Minshew, who was making his second consecutive start in place of injured Jalen Hurts, an MVP candidate. Philadelphia entered the game with a 13-2 record, best in the NFL.
"We got a win against a team that hasn't lost a lot," he said. "Granted, it was against Gardner Minshew and not Jalen Hurts. (But) you have to play whoever you play.
"I think that our defensive line was up to the challenge, (defensive end) Carl Granderson had two sacks, (linebacker) Kaden (Elliss) had a sack. Our defense showed up and showed out today. There was a crucial third-and-1 we needed, and got that (stop) done. There was a fourth-and-1, got that done. I think our unheralded heroes would be our nose tackles. Shy Tuttle on that fourth-and-1 had a big stop against a Pro Bowl-caliber center.
"It takes a whole team. We talk about (cornerback) Marshon (Lattimore) showing up and getting on the field and doing what he does. You love to see it. I've been pressing him for weeks but he's got to be right to play this game. You've got to be mentally acute, if you will, to be a part of that DB position and when he's healthy he's one of the best."
Jordan, now, is the best in franchise history when it comes to sacking opposing quarterbacks. He raised his season total to a team-leading 8.5.
"It was just one of those games that eventually you're going to find," he said. "You're going to find you a quarterback that wants to escape through the B-gap, that wants to – I wouldn't say hold the rock, because he started wheeling and dealing in the second half. But just one of those things that all the games were working.
"They had an offensive lineman missing and whatever that was, we were in sync. We knew going into this game it was going to be our defensive line vs. their defensive line. We were going tit for tat. I'm talking to (Eagles defensive end) Brandon Graham as we're switching out like, 'Hey man, just know we're still coming.'"
For Jordan, that also means stacking more sacks on his resume, extending his franchise record, having earned the chance to continue to wreak havoc in opposing backfields.