Dolphins vs. Saints: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New Orleans
The New Orleans Saints are sitting pretty after destroying the previously undefeated Miami Dolphins 38-17. After running their record to 4-0, the Saints have officially served notice to the rest of the league of their re-emergence.
The precision with which the offense executed may have only been topped by the tenacity of the defense. This was truly the most balanced win of the season for the Black and Gold.
The Saints have a ton of positives to hang their hats on. Conversely, there are areas where they should hang their heads as well.
Let's see who stood out in victory. Here are the complete roster grades from Week 4.
Note: Players are graded on the standard scale. Higher grades are given for splash plays and proper technique. Conversely, lower grades are given for turnovers and improper technique.
Drew Brees: A+
Drew Brees, the symphony conductor, continues to orchestrate some of the most beautiful music around. His ability to manipulate the opposition with his eyes is a trait all young QBs should mimic. When he has it rolling—which is pretty much weekly—he's reminiscent of a young Mike Tyson. He will continue to come after you until you break, or he breaks something on you...
Brees went 30-of-39 for 413 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Of course he got by with a little help from his friends, but make no mistake about it, his leadership qualities are what drive this team's perennial dominance.
Overall Grade: A+
Mark Ingram: DNP
Time to move on...although we can see he might not totally be to blame for the run woes.
Pierre Thomas: B-
The holes just weren't there for Thomas in the run game (four carries for one yard), but his versatility will ensure he gets involved some way or another. Thomas generated 37 yards on five receptions. He's the prototypical back in a West Coast offense.
Darren Sproles is a giant! A parent once told me she thought her son was too small to play football. This lady obviously has never seen Sproles play! At 5'6", 190 pounds, it can be stated that he comes up bigger than most.
His ability to go from zero to 60 in the blink of eye makes him the best back in the league in the pass game. His seven-catch, 114-yard performance is just a Sproles type of day. His fumble kept me from giving him the highest possible grade.
Khiry Robinson: B
Robinson finally got the lion's share of the carries. His 3.1 average yards per carry was extremely pedestrian, but the tenacity with which he runs makes every single yard look spectacular. I'd like to see him play a full series so the defense can't key in on him as easily. When he was in, you could bet your bottom dollar that it was going to be a run.
Overall Grade: B+
Marques Colston: A+
Colston is old faithful. He just keeps plugging away (seven catches for 96 yards) using his size and hands to dominate defenses. Now that tight end Jimmy Graham can be considered the No. 1 option, Colston is left to his own devices to destroy single coverage.
Nick Toon: C
Toon finally got his first catch (18 yards) and then disappeared. He dropped his only other target. But he has the look of Colston and the talent as well. The future's bright for this guy.
Kenny Stills: B
Stills played in the spot vacated by Lance Moore and looked pretty good doing so. He's money generating yards after the catch. His four-catch, 38-yard performance was solid given his opportunities. Toon and Stills...get used to hearing those names!
Robert Meachem: INC
Meachem was covered like a blanket, due to only being in on areas of the field where it was clear he was going deep. A shot at running more routes on the tree would help him out tremendously. Meachem failed to chart getting only one target.
Overall Grade: B
Jimmy Graham: A+
Every week we're talking about some spectacular Jimmy Graham performance. I could use an automated message and would be right on his performance more times than not. This dude is the truth! He's indefensible and indispensable. Pay the man! His four-catch, 100-yard performance is a light day by his standards.
Ben Watson: B
Watson had one catch for four yards...but that catch was for a key touchdown! This guy does the dirty work and doesn't complain. In this offense, he will rarely show up big on the stats sheet, but his opponents and teammates are aware of his impact.
Overall Grade: B
Pass Protection: D
Brees was sacked another two times and was pressured a ton more. What used to be the strength of the team has now turned into an Achilles' heel. When a team has line problems, usually it goes home early in postseason play. Both guards, Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans, struggled with the Dolphins' interior line. Even center Brian de la Puente struggled. Come to think of it, the line struggled across the board.
This could be disastrous...
Run Blocking: D
Not impressed with the run defense at all. It is still struggling with soft play. Eventually some team will play well against the pass. The ability to switch your pitch is what championship teams are made of.
Cameron Jordan: A+
Cam Jordan has been back at his familiar defensive end spot—in an even-front defense—for much of the year. As the defense becomes more familiar with the scheme, coordinator Rob Ryan will run more 3-4. So with that being said, I still think Jordan has a lot more to offer. And he's been an absolute stud thus far. He had a sack and another three QB hits.
Akiem Hicks: C
Hicks didn't make the type of impact I thought he would. When the rotation is stacked with talent, in some games, it may be hard to contribute.
Glenn Foster: C
Foster had a QB hit but didn't stand out with Walker doing most of the damage this game.
John Jenkins: B
John Jenkins always seems to flash off the screen. His ability to anchor the nose tackle position makes him invaluable.
Tyrunn Walker: A+
This guy is a beast. It seems like every game one of these linemen steps up in a major way. With the amount of talent, the Saints are guaranteed to get production from the line. Walker had four tackles, one sack and a QB hit.
Overall Grade: B
Junior Galette: A+
You can't tell me that's not San Diego Chargers all-world defender Dwight Freeney out there in that No. 93 jersey! In fact, the Chargers claim that Freeney tore a quad muscle this past Sunday. I believe he is having a hard time playing for both the Saints and Chargers simultaneously. Well, he will now only play for New Orleans. No. 93 had a sack, a tackle behind the line and a deflected pass. He was everywhere!
Parys Haralson: C
Haralson had a QB hit but generally was lost in the shuffle. Playing a ton of 4-3 hurts an undersized player like Haralson. He is a 3-4-based outside linebacker by nature.
Martez Wilson: B
The best athlete on the roster finally generated his first sack! I expect a lot more from this specimen as time goes on—and he heals from his elbow injury.
Overall Grade: B-
Curtis Lofton: A+
Curtis Lofton continued his physical ways. Crushing running backs and causing fumbles is a way of life for this quiet star. Lofton finished with six tackles and one deflected pass. He's truly one of my favorite players in the NFL.
David Hawthorne: A
Hawthorne almost played as well as Lofton. Both benefit from playing in a 4-3-based alignment the majority of the time. Hawthorne is a good athlete with a good knowledge of the outside linebacker (in a 4-3) position. He finished with five tackles.
Will Herring: C
I've made fun of Herring being on the team so much that somehow he came up with an interception. It was off of a deflected pass, but still it was something. Other than that, he's taking up space on the roster. Where are all the people who comment and say he's the best special teams player? That honor goes to Ramon Humber.
Overall Grade: B
Keenan Lewis: C
Lewis received a lot of publicity due to the storyline of facing his best friend Mike Wallace...well the press didn't have much to chew on. Neither player did much of anything. Lewis left with an early injury (which seems like a weekly occurrence). When he returned, the rush was in full beast mode.
Jabari Greer: B
Jabari Greer can be impressive at times. His pick of a slant pass was pure football intelligence. He didn't let the receiver cross his face. I wonder why the Dolphins didn't attempt a slant-and-go with Greer being so aggressive. Thus far, Greer has been the best corner on the team.
Corey White: B
I like White's ability. He plays well when he gets a chance. He may very well be the future of the team at the corner position. Being physical will get White on the field; being productive will keep him there. He's well on his way after the last few performances.
Chris Carr: B-
Carr had an interception, but he also gave up a touchdown. He's a great player to have around due to his football knowledge. Next time he's in the game, pay attention to how he gets everyone lined up. Carr also finished with four tackles.
Overall Grade: B-
Malcolm Jenkins: A
Jenkins is officially my favorite player on the defense. People love Kenny Vaccaro because he's being productive as a new face. But it can be argued that Malcolm Jenkins is playing better. His career resurgence couldn't have come at a better time for the former college superstar. Jenkins led the team with seven tackles (one for a loss).
Roman Harper: DNP
Roman Harper has been playing well. Here's hoping he comes back soon.
Kenny Vaccaro: B
Vaccaro didn't flash off the screen like I expected on Monday Night Football, but he was his normal Vaccaro self when presented the opportunity. He finished with four tackles.
Rafael Bush: B
Rafael Bush finally showed up on some plays. He had five tackles and a pass deflection. He was shook out of his shoes and had to chase down a back on a long gain. But showing his speed, he was able to get a shoestring tackle on an extremely fast Marcus Thigpen.
Overall Grade: B+
Special Teams: C
The NFL has seemingly taken away one of the most exciting plays in football in the kick return. I can't wait to see Darren Sproles take one to the house again one day, just adding to his vast repertoire.
Kicker Garrett Hartley missed one of his two field-goal attempts. People have confidence in him, but he scares me...
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