DE Will Smith—Grade—B+
Some complained during Sunday night’s game that the Saints were struggling to set the edge on the stretch running play featured by San Diego. To some degree that was true. And that responsibility primarily lies upon the veteran defensive end. But Smith also handled his role of creating pressure on Rivers as well as he all season long.
DT Brodrick Bunkley—Grade—B
No one has complimented Brodrick Bunkley since this season began. I literally believe NO ONE has complimented for his play. Let me be the first. Bunkley was finally seen holding the point of attack Sunday night, while also getting some key penetration to stop the Chargers from running north and south effectively. In fact, he forced the Chargers into the more lateral running approach.
DT Sedrick Ellis—Grade—B
It isn’t saying much, but Sunday night was Ellis’ best game of the 2012 season. He was also seen holding the point of attack and pushing offensive lineman back enough to slow down the Chargers’ running game. And he even found his way in the backfield on a few occasions. I was actually kind of impressed.
DE Cameron Jordan—Grade—B
Jordan was one of many who was responsible for making life tough on Phillip Rivers, especially as the game went on. And he, like Smith, is responsible for holding the edge on outside running plays. But his performance wasn’t as bad as it looked. At some point, linebackers have to flow up and make a tackle.
DT Tom Johnson—Grade—B
The Saints are better in run defense with Johnson on the field. He has the strength and will power to hold the POA and cause difficulties for the runner to get beyond the line. He did that often Sunday night. He is earning more playing time due to the improvement in rush defense with him in the game.
DT Akiem Hicks—Grade—Incomplete
I know he dressed, but I’m honestly not sure I ever saw him on the field.
DE Junior Galette—Grade—A
This may have been Galette’s best game as a professional. Everyone noticed the way he would regularly burst toward the quarterback. But he even made a few nice plays in the running game as well. It’s very exciting to see what this team can be when it gets a lead. Galette is one reason why.
DE Martez Wilson—Grade—A-
Wilson was used effectively on an opening drive stunt blitz to hit Rivers and force an errant throw. And then late in the game, Steve Spagnuolo realized his pass rush was best suited to include Wilson who could simply outrun Jared Gaither on the defense’s right side. This was Wilson’s best game as a defender to this point in his young career.