Marcus Davenport ran through a 6-foot-9, 315-pound opponent as if the foe was a saloon door.
That’s not so much intended to insult Tampa Bay right tackle Demar Dotson as it is to spotlight that Davenport, the New Orleans Saints’ second-year defensive end, has the tools to be an absolute force, which is exactly what he was during the Saints’ 31-24 victory over the Buccaneers last Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“From my perspective, it was just about get-off and at that point, closing the distance,” Davenport said. “It just so happened that it looked like that.”
It looked like a complete and utter dismantling, and it resulted in one of two sacks for Davenport, who finished off the bull rush by again introducing Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to the Superdome turf in the fourth quarter.
Davenport was impactful enough to earn a defensive game ball – he had two of New Orleans’ six sacks (for minus-15 yards), three quarterback hits, a forced fumble, a tackle for loss and three tackles.
It was, by his own account, the most comfortable he has been in an NFL game.
“More or less, it was just about playing fast and trying to play my game, and that’s something that I’ve been trying to work on this whole season, even preseason,” Davenport said. “So it’s been helpful that I feel like I’ve gotten better in that sense.”
“He played well,” Coach Sean Payton said. “He was productive. I thought he played with his length, he did a lot of things well, and there's a few things in there you look at that you want to clean up, but obviously it was a real good game for him.”
The Saints, obviously, want to see Davenport stack together more of them. Maybe they all won’t resemble Sunday’s statistical avalanche, but when New Orleans made the move to draft him in the first round in 2018 – the Saints swapped places in the first round with Green Bay (from 27 to 14) and gave the Packers their first-round pick this year in order to pick him – it was with days like Sunday in mind.
Davenport has the physical goods. And the Saints have seen the flashes, like a four-sacks-in-five-games stretch last season, when Davenport played with a foot injury that slowed him down as a rookie and required surgery after the season.
And, too, they now hear the accompanying desire.
“I guess I’m more unhappy about what I didn’t do (against Tampa Bay),” he said. “So I think that’s a good driving force. There’s plays that I missed, plays that I could have done better, plays where I wasn’t really much of a factor. So that’s what I’ve got to work on and build on.
“I’ve got to finish every play. Our main problem is we always want to win our one-on-ones, and that’s on every play. That’s my thing. I want to win all my one-on-ones. I don’t think any of us will ever be satisfied until it’s the perfect game, which we know isn’t achievable. But, it’s still a goal that we can shoot for and be proud to shoot for.”