Saints vs. Dolphins ESPN Monday Night Football Player Grades: Defense and Special Teams

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Another game, another week of holding a team to under 20 points. That's four straight weeks without allowing 20 points, and while this defense was gashed for big runs and some explosive pass plays at times, they were able to get off the field with timely turnovers. That won't happen every week, though, so there's things to clean up. The pass rush overall was poor early in the game, but once the Dolphins turned one dimensional due to the score, the Saints showed once again why they are so much better this year - they can get to the quarterback. On to the grades...

Cameron Jordan: B- for the game (3.07 for the season) Probably his weakest game of the season so far, and he still managed a sack and he hit Ryan Tannehill a few times as he released the ball. When the Saints rushed just four he was still getting good pressure on the quarterback. He wasn't as dominant in run support as he's been in the first three games, mostly because the Dolphins seemed to use more exotic run looks around the edge which caught the Saints off guard.

Akiem Hicks: C- (2.33) An unusually quiet game for Hicks where he was largely neutralized rushing the passer and didn't record a statistic. He did hold his ground well for the most part against the run but he struggled to make any meaningful impact.

John Jenkins: B+ (3.08) He set the tone early with a 3rd and one chain link stop in the backfield forcing the Dolphins to settle for a field goal in the red zone. Jenkins was once again a disruptive force up the middle. He was consistently collapsing his pocket and his pass rushing bull rush was almost more effective than his run stopping. He had 2 tackles and was a menace all game to the Dolphins' interior. What a fantastic start to the season it's been for the Saints' rookie.

Tyrunn Walker: A- (3.22) My man crush on this guy continues. Walker continues to impress every single time the Saints put him on the field. He's largely used in pass rushing packages but he also showed some serious skill absorbing run blocks and shedding them too. He had four tackles and finally go his first career sack.

Glenn Foster: C (2.50) He had one tackle and struggled a bit against the run, allowing blocks to push him inside and have runs go wide to the lane he left. He also wasn't as effective providing pressure as we've seen in other games. No major mistakes, though.

Junior Galette: A- (3.17) Other than a couple of mistakes against the run, one time over pursuing and one time getting rocked on a block, both of which opened huge lanes, Galette had an excellent game. He hit Tannehill's arm which led to Herring's interception, he put constant pressure on the passer, he had 2 tackles and a sack. Perhaps his best play was initially not reading screen but recovering very quickly and doing a great job of not losing containment to force an incompletion with great coverage. Coverage was the big concern with regard to moving him to OLB and that was a non issue in this game.

Martez Wilson: B- (2.44) He didn't play a ton but as a situational pass rusher he got his first sack of the season. Making plays like that will help him see more time on the field.

Parys Haralson: C+ (2.50) The Saints played so much nickel he saw very little time on the field when he was in. He did fine when he was in and played the run the right way. I'd love to see him get more action.

Will Herring: B (2.67) He played sparingly but made a huge play on the interception of a wounded duck thanks to a Galette hit as Tannehill was throwing. On the interception he did a fantastic job of locating the football and making an athletic jump and sure handed catch in traffic to come up with the turnover. If there's one thing this guy can do it's make plays in the passing game and in coverage.

David Hawthorne: C+ (2.75) He had 5 tackles but I thought his run support, block sheds and overall pursuit weren't great. He did have some nice physical play helping his teammates finish tackles and he did have one nice hit around the line of scrimmage, but I thought he could have been better against the run.

Curtis Lofton: B- (3.00) Tough game to grade Lofton because he was so good at times and bad at others. To me he looked a step slow and guessed wrong on a number of gaps he shot to allow big plays. His coverage remains a liability. But then there's the positive. He comes up with a huge strip in the open that would force a turnover when the Dolphins were looking to take the lead, and he also came up with a 3rd down shoestring tackle that would put the ball about half a yard short of the first down and force the Dolphins to punt. He also put a couple of huge hits over the middle on button hook routes that forced the ball loose for incompletions. He blitzed a few times and was stonewalled. He finished with 6 tackles and a big forced fumble.

Ramon Humber: C+ (2.33) He played late mostly in coverage and made no major mistakes. He also gave some special teams presence with a tackle. He finished the game with 3 tackles.

Keenan Lewis: B+ (2.92) He was responsible for covering Mike Wallace and Wallace ended up with 3 receptions for 24 yards. Enough said. He also deserves a lot of credit for getting hurt and insisting on coming back in the game numerous times. The blanket coverage he had on a deep ball to Wallace in particular was excellent. Hopefully the injury isn't serious because he seems to really be coming into his own and getting comfortable with this defense. He had 3 tackles.

Jabari Greer: B+ (2.75) He had a little trouble with Brian Hartline on short routes near the sticks, but then jumped a slant before haltime and came up with a huge pick, returned it 22 yards being extremely head's up, which set the Saints up for a comfortable 21-10 halftime lead. He had 3 tackles. I've read some chatter earlier in the season that some felt he was washed up, I couldn't disagree more. The Saints' starting CB tandem may not be all world, but it's very solid, especially with a decent pass rush.

Chris Carr: B+ (2.67) He had an interception off a tipped ball and 4 tackles. He did a good job in the slot and I don't think the Saints should have ever cut him to being with. He played well in preseason and Rod Sweeting would've cleared waivers for the practice squad. I'm glad he's back now. He did get beat in the slot on occasion but he's a solid veteran reserve corner that knows Ryan's defense. He seems to be ahead of White as the nickel right now.

Corey White: C (2.59) He came in and played a good bit when Lewis went down with the injury. He laid a bone crushing devastating hit to cause a break up which was probably his finest moment in the game. He had one tackle, but was probably victimized most of the Saints' defensive backs in coverage.

Kenny Vaccaro: C- (2.67) A quiet game for Vaccaro overall. He did have one really stupid illegal use of hands to the face on 2nd and 18 which gave the Dolphins an automatic first down when they were dead to rights. That's the kind of aggressive play from the safety we'll see from time to time this year that will get us burned. He had 4 tackles but didn't do anything special. He seemed to be so-so in coverage and running after the play a good bit, but he was physical in press coverage.

Malcolm Jenkins: C+ (2.67) He led the team with 7 tackles including one for a loss. He was pretty good in press coverage when the Saints put him in the slot, and he was physical. He did take some bad angles on a few running plays that allowed bigger gains than what they needed to be. Jenkins is aggressive in his angles to the ball carrier and it sometimes gets him in trouble. A decent performance.

Rafael Bush: C+ (2.25) Like Lofton he's really tough to grade because there was a lot of good and bad. His run support angles were quite poor. Marcus Thigpen had him face to face and juked him out of his pants for a 50 yard reception, but at least credit Bush for staying in hot pursuit and coming up with a shoestring tackle short of the goal line. Bush did recover the Tannehill fumble, though, and he made a play on the ball to assist Carr in his deflected interception. Bush did at times play the run well around the line of scrimmage, but not so much at the second level. His coverage was very up and down. He boosts his grade a bit by being directly involved in two turnovers, though.

Isa Abdul-Quddus: C+ (2.33) Played a little bit late at safety and looked pretty good reading the ball, which is what he does best. He had two tackles.

***

Garrett Hartley: C- (3.08) He hooked a 43 yarder badly, but luckily it didn't matter. He was 5 for 5 on point afters and he made a 29 yarder just inside the upright.

Thomas Morstead: A (3.75) He did his usually thing on kickoffs, either booting touchbacks or hitting kicks high and putting his gunners in a position to bring down the returner inside the 20. He had 3 punts for an average of 47.3, including one inside the 20. His net was 45.7 which is astronomically high. He's currently the highest graded player on the team (as he was last season), just ahead of Jimmy Graham.

***

My Defensive Player of the Game: Junior Galette

My Special Teams Player of the Game: Thomas Morstead

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