What a difference a week and a new opponent make.
The Saints held the Bears to just 13 points and they completely embarrassed both the Bears offensive line and Jay Cutler. Literally, the only play that ever had success for this Bears offense was an underneath throw to Matt Forte. The Bears used that play over and over and over. I realize the Saints were exposed to this because of how ridiculously aggressive they became once the Bears were one dimensional offensively, but couldn't they just leave one capable guy responsible for Forte at all times?
In the end, despite Forte continually gashing the Saints in the passing game, how can I really complain? Not only did the Saints hold the Bears to 13 points, it really should have been 9 if it wasn't for that atrocious roughing the passer penalty. By the end of the game I was almost feeling sorry for the Bears. Almost.
The truth is, the Saints owed the Bears a serious beatdown and it needed to happen. The three times they've faced off in Sean Payton's tenure it's been in December or later in Chicago. Well, welcome to the idea of playing the Saints indoors on turf, Lovie Smith and crew. Not as easy to put up with, is it? And the best news is the Saints have survived two games without Will Smith and can now welcome him back for next week.
Make the jump for the grades!Turk McBride: B (2.67) He finished with just 2 tackles and a sack, but it was a big one. He knocked the ball loose from Jay Cutler and helped the Saints secure their lone takeaway of the season so far. I've liked what I've seen from McBride so far. He's gotten decent pressure on the passer and he holds his ground pretty well against the run.
Jeff Charleston: C (2.17) Nothing special, but he had a tackle on a running play and he hit Cutler once. No mistakes but he certainly didn't perform like what you'd expect from a "starter". In his defense he saw a lot less reps than Galette and Jordan.
Cameron Jordan: B- (2.17) The rookie was promising. He was good against the run and he did a solid job of getting pressure. He was completely robbed of a sack thanks to Jay Cutler's intentional grounding on one play. I hate that a defensive player doesn't get credit for a sack there because he's basically getting punished statistically for a play that ends up being more productive than a sack. He finished with 1 tackle but that doesn't tell the story of his progress. Can't wait to see more from him.
Junior Galette: B+ (2.83) Once the Bears were in a position where they were throwing every play, Galette was left in as he excels at passing rushing. He was allowed to pin his ears back and just keep going after Cutler. He finished with 2 sacks and he's off to a great start this season. I hope he still gets reps once Will Smith is back.
Aubrayo Franklin: C+ (2.00) He had two tackles and did a decent job moving the pile. Still, I've yet to see what all the hoopla about this signing is. I've yet to see Franklin dominate. Maybe he's still recovering from his injury in the preseason.
Sedrick Ellis: B- (2.00) He cleaned up a sack that was mostly made by Harper and he finished with 2 tackles. He went for long stretches without making an impact but he did tip a pass at the line of scrimmage once, and I want to really commend him for reading a screen play late in the game and instead of aimlessly going in pursuit of Cutler he stayed at home on Forte and broke up the screen attempt. A real head's up play there that I really appreciated given Forte's prowess in the passing game.
Shaun Rogers: C (1.34) He had just one tackle but it was an improvement over his invisible performance last week. I saw him actually trying and making an impact in the trenches. I'm still skeptical of the impact he'll make this season but he's got nowhere to go but up.
Mitch King: B- (2.00) He had two tackles including one for a loss and showed tons of hustle.
Scott Shanle: C- (2.00) He was responsible many times for covering Matt Forte and we all saw how that worked out. He was beat in coverage and he was very slow in pursuit. The few times he got a hold of someone downfield, he at least tackled fairly well, but he just struggled out there. He was flagged on a pass interference call that I still don't get. I replayed that play 5 times to try to get an angle where that call made sense and I can't justify it. Those refs were horrible. They're lucky I don't grade them out because it would be an F. All in all he was mediocre at best and finished with 2 tackles.
Jonathan Vilma: D+ (1.67) Give him kudos for coming back and playing through injury, but he was not good in this game. Blockers found him easily and knocked him out of the play at will. I feel like he's regressed pretty significantly so far this year. He looks slow, tackles poorly and can't shed blocks. I hope he can rebound next week.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar: A- (3.67) The Saints played Dunbar a good amount as a second inside linebacker early, utilizing the 3-4 scheme quite a bit. The result was impressive. Dunbar used his physical ability to really make a statement in run support. He was thumbing inside and making plays all over the line of scrimmage. He gave the Saints a mean streak inside that was sorely needed against the Packers. He finished with a whooping 5 tackles and played very well when he was in.
Jonathan Casillas: B (2.67) Clearly he's best rushing the passer. He was able to get another sack this week, giving him 2 for the season, 1 in each game. He finished with 2 tackles and was mostly helpful blitzing. The times he was dropped into coverage I feel like he has poor awareness of the play.
Will Herring: D (1.00) Where was he? He was listed as a "starter" and he was almost never on the field. When he was, he was consistently as far away from the football as possible. Hard to grade the guy based on his 1 tackle and limited play time, but I docked his grade a bit because he's supposed to be a starter that would make an impact on the Saints' linebacker issues. Honestly, I'd start Dunbar-Vilma-Casillas right now if it was up to me.
Jabari Greer: A (2.67) What a difference a week makes. His coverage was outstanding. He defended a number of 3rd down passes to get the Saints' defense off the field and he completely blanketed his man at all times. He was almost sound tackling and helpful coming up against the run. He finished with 4 tackles.
Patrick Robinson: B (3.00) He wasn't Greer good but he was solid in his coverage as well. He benefited from a terrific pass rush when at times he left some space to his receiver. Overall, though, he played much better than last week and wasn't victimized.
Malcolm Jenkins: B (2.50) He finished with 5 tackles and was really laying wood out there. Some of the hits he's put on players so far this year have caused me pain just watching them. The guy just crushes people. He popped Cutler pretty good on a blitz that left the quarterback a little gimpy. He was physical and he did a good job of stopping Forte on his long run. The one negative was an easy interception that hit him right in between the numbers that he dropped. He's got to come up with that football.
Roman Harper: A- (1.84) He bounced back very well from last week. He did a decent job in coverage and most importantly he was put in a better position to succeed. He played around the box, blitzed a ton, and laid some hard hits on receivers over the middle. He finished with 7 tackles, was all over the field, and had 2 sacks.
John Kasay: A (3.67) I still cannot believe he nailed that 53 yarder. Maybe Hartley's injury was a blessing in disguise? Give Kasay credit, he's been perfect so far. How can you complain about his performance? He was perfect on 3 field goals and 3 extra points. He's been a terrific fill in so far.
Thomas Morstead: A+ (3.50) I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this was the best game of Morstead's career. His main job going into this game was to neutralize Devin Hester and he was tall to the task and then some. His average off 5 punts was 45.8. Pretty good right? Well, his NET was 46.6. That's right, his net was actually better than his gross average. How is that possible? The only return Hester had was for negative yardage. Morstead was that good. Of course he blasted a slew of kickoffs for touchbacks, and the ones that were run out were harmless. He saved his best for last too, as late in the game from his own end zone he destroyed a 59 yard punt to give the Saints breathing room that angled out of bounds and wasn't returned.
Leigh Torrence: A (3.00) Torrence had five tackles and many were on Hester on special teams. He had fantastic coverage and played a huge part in keeping Hester in check. He forced a fumble on one return, and was responsible for the 4 yard loss on the punt return. He was outstanding. He also did a good job in coverage.
Brian de la Puente: D- (0.67) I'm not going to fail him, but that false start when the Saints had a gimmick audible play with Chase Daniel doing something cool was unforgivable. You could tell Sean Payton was furious, too. It worked out since Kasay ended up nailing a 53 yarder right afterwards. Still, a big party of me was very curious about what Sean Payton had up his sleeve on that play. Too bad, we'll probably never see it again.
My Defensive Player of the Game: Jabari Greer
My Special Teams Player of the Game: Thomas Morstead