Cardinals vs Saints: Player Grades, Instant Analysis for New Orleans

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterAugust 5, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Darren Sproles #43 and the New Orleans Saints huddle on the field against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 36-32.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Live Game Grades Intro:

Follow below for how specific Saints players perform vs. the Cardinals in Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. Grades are real-time. Final grades are not an average, but my take on how each player performed. Key players and "game-changers" (players who emerge to impact the game dramatically one way or the other) are highlighted. Scroll down for brief notes on additional Saints players.

Drew Brees

1Q: A   2Q: DNP   3Q: DNP   4Q: DNP   Final: A

Drew Brees went 4-for-5 on the Saints opening 77-yard touchdown drive that featured five passing plays and five running plays.

Brees's first feat of magic of the season came on the first play when his legs were wrapped up he flipped the ball to Pierre Thomas for a 1-yard gain. But the sack was avoided and the drive started on a positive note--vintage Brees.

The only knock on Brees was his one incompletion. He rolled out on a play action and had an open Devery Henderson but missed him. On the next play Brees hit Joseph Morgan for 13 yards proving that Brees easily forgets mistakes and improves instantly.

After one series Brees exited the game.

Jimmy Graham

1Q: B   2Q: DNP   3Q: DNP  4Q: DNP   Final: B

Jimmy Graham didn't make a catch in the first quarter, he wasn's even targeted. He did, however, make a good block when the Saints were down on the Cardinals goal line.

Graham showed there that catching passes, while his forte, isn't his only skill. I can't give him an 'A' though when he doesn't touch the ball. 

Don't worry, however, Graham should surely grade out well above 'B' in 2012 when the games count.

Darren Sproles

1Q: A   2Q: DNP   3Q: DNP   4Q: DNP   Final: A

Darren Sproles got his first touch of the game on an 8-yard screen pass from Drew Brees. His second touch was two plays later when Sproles took a handoff and gained 11 yards.

That second touch was a beautifully executed stretch play where Sproles used a great block and a huge burst of speed to notch a big gain.

Curtis Lofton

1Q: A   2Q: A   3Q: A   4Q: DNP   Final: A

Curtis Lofton made an incredible tackle behind the line of scrimmage on Arizona's second drive of the game. He took a great angle and wasted no time popping LaRod Stephens-Howling and bringing him down quickly.

Lofton later broke up a pass as he lied in wait on a pass over the middle. He showed good instincts by giving the receiver enough room to look open but closing ground quickly.

In the second quarter Lofton continued making tackles, much like the Saints knew he could do and brought him in to do. He led the Saints defense with three first-half tackles.

Cameron Jordan

1Q: B   2Q: C   3Q: DNP   4Q: DNP   Final: B-

Cameron Jordan showed good pursuit of the quarterback in the first quarter, and aspect of the Saints defense that needs a marked improvement.

He forced Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb to throw early and incomplete and registered a hurry on the play.

Pierre Thomas (Game Changer)

1Q: A   2Q: DNP   3Q: DNP   4Q: DNP   Final: A

Pierre Thomas caught a pass on the opening play of the game and was then featured on the next play and came up big with a 20-yard gain on a screen pass.

The best play from Thomas came on the same drive when he was hit after a 1-yard gain, spun off the tackle and then ran for 11 more yards.

Courtney Roby (Game Changer)

1Q: B   2Q: A   3Q: B   4Q: DNP   Final: B+

Courtney Roby wasn't a front runner in the battle for the fourth wide receiver for the Saints. He may be moving up in the competition ranks after his early performance Sunday night.

Roby had two catches in the first quarter and already has two in the second.

Roby finished with four catches for 54 yards and will definitely be earmarked now as a main competitor at WR4.

Chase Daniel (Game Changer)

1Q: B   2Q: A+   3Q: B-   4Q: DNP   Final: A-

Everyone knew that the world would see a lot of Chase Daniel Sunday night because Drew Brees was only going to play a series or two. Not many knew that Daniel would impress like this.

Daniel was 12-for-16 in the first half after taking over on the Saints' second series. He threw the ball well and used his feet for 20 yards when scrambling was in order.

Daniel was most impressive late in the first half when he orchestrated a 96-yard drive in perfect two-minute drill fashion.

Daniel was 6-for-6 on that final drive of the half and ran the no-huddle well.

An interception in the red zone on his final pass of the night marred Daniel's night, but the backup quarterback still shined going 15-for-20 for 203 yards and a touchdown.

Martez Wilson (Game Changer)

1Q: DNP   2Q: A   3Q: A+   4Q: DNP   Final: A

Martez Wilson seems to be making the best of his move from linebacker to defensive. The Saints decided to bolster their pass rush and use Wilson's speed on the edge and move him up onto the line for the 2012 season.

Wilson got to Arizona quarterback John Skelton in the second quarter and recorded a half sack and then burst by an offensive lineman with an up and under move and got a solo sack to start the third quarter.

Wilson is showing off his speed in the pass rush and apparently starting with a hand down and in traffic won't hamper his ability to get at opposing passers.

Saints Defensive Line (Game Changer)

1Q: B   2Q: A   3Q: A   4Q: B-   Final: A-

One of the goals for the Saints in the offseason was to find a way to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If Sunday night is an indication, the New Orleans front four should be much improved.

Arizona's quarterbacks weren't able at all to sit in the pocket and look at the coverage. In fact, Kevin Kolb was chased frequently and even left the game after Sedrick Ellis slammed him to the ground following pursuit.

Martez Wilson was great in pursuit of the quarterback with 1.5 sacks and so was Junior Galette, not to mention starter Cameron Jordan. 

Tyrunn Walker shined late in the game getting to the quarterback, but was handed a roughing the passer penalty for dumping Ryan Lindley after he had gotten rid of the ball.



Chris Ivory

1Q: C   2Q: C  3Q: B   4Q: DNP   Final: C+

Chris Ivory sure got enough work, but only managed 13 yards on his nine carries. He did catch a pass for 15 yards, but was outshined by Travaris Cadet.

Travaris Cadet

1Q: B   2Q: A  3Q: A   4Q: B   Final: A

Travaris Cadet did not carry the ball in the first half, but made his presence felt in the passing game with six receptions, one for a touchdown. Cadet seems ready to push Ivory for his roster spot. 

Cadet was a busy man Sunday, carrying the ball six times for -3 yards and pulling down eight passes for 80 yards.

Tyrunn Walker

1Q: DNP   2Q: B  3Q: B   4Q: B   Final: B

Tyrunn Walker picked up four tackles and notched a sack early in the fourth quarter. The Saints must love to see the bottom portion of the defensive line depth chart making plays. 

Andy Tanner

1Q: DNP   2Q: DNP  3Q: B   4Q: A   Final: A-

Andy Tanner has been raising eyebrows in camp and now during prime time in Canton, Ohio. With four minutes to play Tanner has four catches for 75 yards, all in the second half.

Tanner finished with those four catches and should be given more looks, maybe more reps with the higher units, in camp moving forward.

Lawrence Wilson

1Q: DNP   2Q: DNP  3Q: DNP   4Q: B   Final: B

Any time a guy like Lawrence Wilson, who is fighting for a roster spot, makes a good read and move to pick off a pass in the end zone, it's a great thing. Returning the ball 53 yards to seemingly ice the game, and showing athleticism while doing so, is just an added benefit.


    NFL1000: Ranking the Top DEs of 2017

    New Orleans Saints logo
    New Orleans Saints

    NFL1000: Ranking the Top DEs of 2017

    NFL1000 Scouts
    via Bleacher Report

    Expert NFL Championship Picks and Predictions

    NFL logo

    Expert NFL Championship Picks and Predictions

    Gary Davenport
    via Bleacher Report

    Simms' Matchups to Watch in Championship Weekend

    NFL logo

    Simms' Matchups to Watch in Championship Weekend

    Chris Simms
    via Bleacher Report

    It's the Super Bowl We Don't Want, but Probably Deserve

    NFL logo

    It's the Super Bowl We Don't Want, but Probably Deserve

    Mike Tanier
    via Bleacher Report