If you had told me before the game that the Saints would sack Michael Vick seven times and hold the Eagles to just thirteen points, I would have laughed in your face. If you told me they'd yield 447 yards, I'd absolutely believe you. If you told me both would happen, I'd probably seek to have you institutionalized.
But that's exactly what happened, oddly enough. Make no mistake, the Saints' defense is still bad. The Eagles' offensive line, refusal to run despite constant success, and red zone ineptitude are largely to thank for some of the positives we saw from this defense. Still, this is something to build on. At least they were able to capitalize on weaknesses. The number of huge plays opponents make has to stop, though.
Will Smith: B+ (2.25) He finished with a workmanlike 3 tackles and 2 sacks. He wasn't great at times in the running game, slow to the ball and leaving cutback lanes, but overall a decent game for the Saints' veteran.
Cameron Jordan: A+ (2.42) A truly fantastic game by Jordan who was the Saints best defender. For one night he rushed the passer like Dwight Freeney in his prime and he helped against the run as well. He finished with 6 tackles, 3 sacks, and numerous other remember me hits on Michael Vick. Jornda battled Todd Herremans, a decent right tackle, very well and gave him fits, but once Herremans went down with an injury he positively abused his backup. Jordan is also developing more pass rushing moves so it's great to see him getting better.
Junior Galette: C+ (2.46) He left the game early with an injury which was too bad because he strung out a running play to the sideline using great leverage. Great to see him getting better against the run. He had no impact rushing Vick but it's safe to say he would have if he hadn't gotten injured.
Martez Wilson: B- (2.42) He had 5 tackles and a sack. I refuse to dock his grade for that penalty too, which was just ridiculous. He had contact with Vick's helmet because Vick lowered his head. What else is he supposed to do? He dropped in coverage and was good, too, but he was neutralized at times by the big Eagles' offensive line because of being light in the pads.
Broderick Bunkley: B (2.24) He got a sack on Vick, which was his lone tackle, by doing a good job of cleaning up pressure from the edge. He did well against the run for the most part and the Saints missed him when he briefly left the game with an injury.
Sedrick Ellis: C+ (1.92) Had 3 tackles, including one for a loss. He was up and down against the run, but his lack of a pass rush was still obvious. I was happy to see good effort from him though, for a change.
Tom Johnson: C (1.90) Tough to grade because he was pretty good getting pressure up the middle with extended playing time, but poor against the run. He left huge lane up the middle at times. Overall it was a wash. He had 3 tackles.
Akiem Hicks: C- (2.38) He played sparingly, notching just 1 tackle. He seemed to get pushed around up the middle against a line that really showed very little.
Jonathan Vilma: B- (2.22) He had 4 tackles, 2 of which were for a loss, including one which was a very big 3rd down stop. He did look a step slow running laterally which led to a couple whiffs, but overall he played well. The Saints did a good job of having him on the field in the right situations.
Scott Shanle: D (1.95) He was poor in this game. Slow to the play, poor tackling, and offered little help in run support. Finished with 1 tackle.
Curtis Lofton: C+ (2.92) A disappointing game for Lofton who was victimized a little big in the passing game and didn't have the impact needed against the run to limit some of those big gashers. He did force the Brent Celek fumble in the red zone to seal the game, though, which was big. He finished with 8 tackles.
Jonathan Casillas: B+ (2.13) A really solid game by the young linebacker, as he helped his team make tackles downfield and covered pretty well in nickel situations. He also came up with a big run stuffing hit around the line of scrimmage late. Had 6 tackles.
Patrick Robinson: B+ (1.58) I actually thought he was once again disappointing outside of his huge play, but based on that I have to give him a good grade. That 99 yard pick six was monumental. He finished with just 1 tackle besides that, but his mis-communication with Jenkins on the 77 yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson was horrible. Still, give him credit, he came up with one of the biggest plays of the season.
Jabari Greer: A- (2.34) An excellent day in coverage from Greer who was all over his man, many times Jeremy Maclin. He was also very physical and helpful against the run, finishing with 6 tackles. He looks like he's starting to feel better maybe? The Saints need him at his best.
Corey White: B (1.71) Very encouraging performance from the Saints' rookie who performed well. For me this was probably his best game of the season. He also got involved in plays around the line of scrimmage, he did miss some tackles, but he's getting better.
Malcolm Jenkins: B- (2.17) The long pass to Jackson and some missed tackles were frustrating, but he led the team with 13 tackles and saved numerous long runs from being touchdowns which ultimately was huge because it kept points off the board.
Roman Harper: D+ (2.29) Was bad in coverage and blew numerous tackles around the line of scrimmage which killed the defense. A disappointing game from a guy that's supposed to be at his best playing as more of a linebacker. He finished with 6 tackles.
Isa Abdul-Quddus: B+ (2.40) An excellent game by the reserve safety who came up with a near interception nice pass breakup, a massive remember me lick, and the fumble recovery on the Eagles' final drive. Positive stuff on the back end from him. He had 2 tackles.
Garrett Hartley: D (2.54) He missed a 52 yarder wide left about as bad as you can miss it. That was his lone field goal attempt but it was a complete shank. He also made four extra points, but one hit the upright and barely went in, so he almost missed one of those too.
Thomas Morstead: A- (3.17) Another dominant performance. He was great on kickoffs, neutralized DeSean Jackson with 3 punts for 49.7 yards average (his last booming it 66 yards!) and he finished with a net of 43 which is incredibly strong. The only negatives are the 66 yarder which outkicked his coverage a bit and a couple angled punts which landed short of the 20.
Travaris Cadet: C- (1.67) On offense, Cadet had a 5 yard run and a long end around that went for about 40 called back by a hold. He was also well covered running a few routes. He averaged 26.7 yards on 3 returns, but he lost a critical fumble that put the Eagles back in the game and was positively inexcusable.
My Defensive Player of the Game: Cam Jordan
My Special Teams Player of the Game: Thomas Morstead