Cowboys Saints Football

New Orleans Saints' Vonn Bell (24) and the rest of the defense celebrate after an interception against the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in New Orleans. (Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via AP)

There is a point in every person’s life where they have to rely on someone else to get through the day.

Whether it’s due to sickness, a bad day or simply a lack of knowledge, everyone needs someone they can lean on when times get tough.

For years, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has been able to rely on quarterback Drew Brees in any situation when Payton did not have a feel for the game.

In the especially rare times when Brees struggled to get anything going, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara answered with equal efficiency and showed the capability to lead the Saints to victory on their shoulders.

Now with Brees out and Ingram gone, who can Payton rely on when the opposing defense stacks the box with bodies against a superstar like Kamara?

The answer comes from the other side of the ball: the turnover machine that is the defense.

The argument through the years has always been that Brees could have multiple Super Bowl wins with a competent defense that has ranked near the bottom multiple times while number nine has been under center.

That argument has seemed to die out as the 2019 defense has put up impressive performances against a tough first place schedule.

The defense has produced six turnovers through four games, and all have come when it counted.

Marcus Williams has had two huge interceptions with one coming in a tight game against the Houston Texan week one and the other to seal the deal against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

The turnovers are what is going to make these performances stable and keep producing wins, but another bright spot has come from unexpected names like Vonn Bell and David Onyemata.

Vonn Bell had a breakout year last year and has followed it up with a great four games thus far. He leads the team in tackles with 31 and allows Williams to play as a pseudo center field.

Onyemata had to sit out week one, and the gap in the middle of the defense showed as New Orleans allowed 180 yards on the ground to Houston.

In a loss to the LA Rams the following week, Onyemata added depth and pitched in three solo tackles.

His real impact came against the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Along with Malcolm Brown and a returning Sheldon Rankins, Onyemata and the rest of the defensive line held the NFL’s best rusher, Ezekiel Elliot, to 35 yards on 18 carries.

That is a performance that everyone should be excited about as the depth on the defensive line is not going away and has shown that they can compete against the best. The Saints defense has not allowed a single 100-yard rusher in 30 straight games.

The defensive line is the strong suit for this group, but another top talent woke up in week four during a time that the city desperately needed him.

Through three weeks, cornerback Marshon Lattimore was not having his best start. Lattimore allowed big plays to the likes of Deandre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp and Tyler Lockett.

Then he had to go into a game against another tremendous receiver in Amari Cooper.

The 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year stepped up and was a huge factor as to why Dallas mustered 10 points.

Cooper finished with 48-yards receiving, and the supposed high-octane Dallas offense finished with only 212-yards passing.

Add in linebackers Demario Davis and A.J. Klein, and New Orleans has a defense that can keep up the impressive performance into the foreseeable future.

While the numbers for the defense do not look pretty on paper, the way that each group plays shows the chemistry and play-making ability that is uniform throughout the defense.

Payton now has a team that looks a lot like 2009 when Brees returns. The Saints were built around a solid offensive group with weapons, multiple running backs who can do more than simply run and a defense that forces turnovers constantly and maintains the attitude of bend and do not break.

Payton can rely on his defense in the tough times ahead, and wins will surely follow.

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