Saints vs. Jets: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New Orleans
Well, it was bound to catch up to the Black and Gold eventually.
The 6-2 New Orleans Saints strolled into MetLife Stadium to face the 5-4 New York Jets and were denied at the door like unruly patrons at a New York City club. The 26-20 score may not truly tell the tale of how thoroughly the Saints were dominated at the point of attack.
The Jets defense forced Drew Brees off his spot the entire game, while the Jets offense nearly piled up 200 yards rushing. The Jets were an excellent barometer of the type of team the Saints will face during the meat of their schedule.
If this game is any indication, the Saints may very well be in trouble. The inability to run the ball once again reared its ugly head and may very well be the Achilles' heel for the Saints. Finessing your way through a season can only take you so far—eventually you have to have the ability to punch a team back in the mouth.
The Saints have a few positives to hang their hats on. Conversely, there are a ton of areas where they should hang their heads.
Let's see who stood out in defeat. Here are the complete roster grades for Week 9.
Players are graded on the standard scale. Higher grades are given for splash plays (TDs, INTs, sacks, etc.) and proper technique. Conversely, lower grades are given for turnovers and improper technique.
Drew Brees: C-
Drew Brees had a rough day. His 30-of-51, 382-yard, two-TD (two interceptions) performance might look good on the surface, but he had his worst outing of the season with much of it being his own fault.
From the onset Brees was off. He burned three timeouts in the first quarter and committed a couple of delay of game penalties to boot. The Jets ferocious pass rush was the cause of his shaky play. But even when Brees had time, his accuracy could've been called into question.
The Saints aren't a talented enough offense to overcome suspect play by Brees—against elite defenses. But following Brees' career, he'll probably bounce back with a five-TD game in next week’s outing.
Pierre Thomas: A
Pierre Thomas made the most of his opportunities in the run game (six carries for 24 yards), as well as the pass (seven catches for 66 yards). Being a jack-of-all trades ensures that Thomas will stuff the stat sheet on a weekly basis.
Darren Sproles: INC
Darren Sproles was reportedly concussed on his very first touch of the game (a two-yard reception). His absence sent the Saints' game plan into a tailspin. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for this dynamo.
Khiry Robinson: DNP
Khiry Robinson was inactive with the return of much-vilified back Mark Ingram. Robinson did nothing to unseat Ingram with his play, outside of a few nice runs in garbage time. He did well, but not well enough to say he should be featured at the position.
Mark Ingram: B
Ingram had a nice 13-yard jaunt. We will undoubtedly see more of him in the coming weeks. Fans will be thrilled at this development. His four-carry, 19-yard performance was not spellbinding by any means, but it's a step in the right direction.
Overall Grade: B- (Given the limited opportunities)
Marques Colston: DNP
Marques Colston has been M.I.A. for much of the season, but this time Colston was actually absent due to an injury. You had the feeling that Colston may have made a play at the end of the game like he has for much of his career. But then again, he may not have.
Nick Toon: F
Nick Toon had an awful performance. He beat Jets corner Dee Milliner on a beautiful double move, but he failed to reel in a catch that looked rather routine (if he ran through it). Another target to Toon ended up resulting in a interception. Playing in his hometown, against the team his dad starred for, might have had something to do with it.
He will bounce back.
Kenny Stills: C
Coming off a game where Saints fans (many who are reading this) broke out the anointing oil for the rookie receiver, Kenny Stills followed it up with a three-catch, 35-yard performance—that mirrors many of his outings this season.
Stills will eventually be a good player; he just needs to consistently have monster games to be deemed that. He's a rookie—he has a ton of time.
Robert Meachem: A
Robert Meachem's back! The best deep threat in recent Saints history made a return to form that had many fans jumping out their seats (or off the couch). His four-catch, 93-yard performance was reminiscent of the good old days. You know, when the Saints would actually run the ball.
Lance Moore: A
Lance Moore's back! One of the best intermediate threats in recent Saints history had fans rejoicing and doing the Macarena (Oh, that was just me, you say?). Moore was eating the Jets defense alive to the tune of six catches for 70 yards. The Saints need "Moore" Lance
Overall Grade: C+
Jimmy Graham: A+
Even a hobbled Jimmy Graham is unstoppable. His nine-catch, 116-yard performance (two TDs), is standard for the competitive force of nature. The Saints would be an above-average offense without him. With him, they will always be in the running for the top five.
Ben Watson: INC
Ben Watson was only targeted once and failed to chart. His day was spent trying to help in pass protection for the most part. Watson is selfless and will continue to make his presence felt in a myriad of ways—some of which won't show up on a stats sheet.
Overall Grade: A+
Pass Protection: F-
Brees was sacked twice and ran for his life on the rest of his 51 dropbacks. The Jets have the best defensive line New Orleans has seen all season. They are physical, athletic and relentless. It's the kind of line the Saints will see from the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers moving forward.
Run Blocking: A+
The Saints only called 12 run plays, one of which being a silly tight end around on a 4th-and 1 (which lost eight yards). For the most part, the Saints looked good in the few opportunities provided.
Overall Grade: C-
Cameron Jordan: C+
Cam Jordan didn't make the impact we've grown accustomed to (two tackles, one pass deflection, zero QB hits). Credit is in store for the Jets offensive line, which did a pretty good job on a stout Saints defensive line.
Akiem Hicks: B
Akiem Hicks piles up tackles on the interior of the line. He's a good player who will only get better. How scary is that? Hicks had six tackles (one for a loss). Hicks is beginning to separate himself from a deep group of linemen with his impact play on the interior.
Brodrick Bunkley: C
Brodrick Bunkley had a few tackles playing in his familiar nose tackle position. Linemen Glenn Foster, Tyrunn Walker and Tom Johnson all need to return to their previous productive play. None made an impact in this particular game.
Overall Grade: D
Curtis Lofton: B-
Nice game for Batman statistically (12 tackles). But when your defense gives up nearly 200 yards rushing, even a superhero like Curtis Lofton must suffer the consequence.
David Hawthorne: B+
Robin followed Batman's lead statistically (eight tackles, one sack). But the duo wasn't enough to affect the Jets' potent run game. It's time to examine the scheme in regard to run fits. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan needs to get that fixed even if it takes away from the aggressiveness of the pass rush.
Overall Grade: B
Junior Galette: B+
Baby Dwight Freeney registered another sack (along with two tackles). Now it's time for him to start affecting the game from the inside out to truly take the next step. Affecting the run needs to be on his radar now. Once Junior Galette gets his all-around play up, he'll simply be known as...Dwight Freeney.
Parys Haralson: B-
Parys Haralson is the opposite of Galette. He's great against the run but mostly nonexistent with his pass rush. This was a game where his run prowess was needed; he responded with four tackles.
Overall Grade: B
Keenan Lewis: C
Keenan Lewis was beat for a few catches but nothing egregious. He didn't affect the game as a No. 1 corner, but in his defense, there weren't very many opportunities to.
Jabari Greer: C
Jabari Greer had a pass deflection, but other than that, he failed to chart. Greer isn't coming with the amount of impact plays as he did in the past; it's time for Corey White to get his reps.
Corey White: C
White is a physical corner who's not afraid to be beat on a play. He's the epitome of what Ryan looks for in a player. His playing time is increasing every week, and his splash plays are as well. White totaled three tackles.
Overall Grade: C
Malcolm Jenkins: DNP
The best player in the secondary missed this tilt with a knee injury. Malcolm Jenkins plays the run extremely well and would've made an impact in this game.
Kenny Vaccaro: B-
Kenny Vaccaro was everywhere. He presence was felt in the backfield (two QB hits), in the run game (five tackles) as well as the pass game (one pass defense). It's hard to imagine Vaccaro not making some type of impact at this point. What a player!
Rafael Bush: B-
Rafael Bush played in the base defense due to the injury to Jenkins. His five tackles were standard for him as he's making his way as a pretty good player in his own right.
Overall Grade: B+
Kicker Garrett Hartley missed an early field goal but followed it up with a 55-yarder (a career best). The kick coverage was spotty at times against one of the best to ever do it in Jets ace Joshua Cribbs. Overall, it was an average day from the team in general.
Here's to hoping the Saints bounce back next week against the Dallas Cowboys. The fun is just beginning, people.
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