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New Orleans Saints' Defensive and Special Teams Player Grades @ Seahawks

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Well ladies and gents, this is it. It was a honor doing these grades, and hopefully you guys enjoy them enough that they'll come back again next year for a 3rd season. It really sucks that I have to go out grading these units, though. Defense and special teams were both horrific in this game. I feel like the entire defense deserves an F for Marshawn Lynch's back breaking 67-yard run which featured eight missed tackles. While the grades are bad and the tone is negative, let this close the book on this atrocity of a game that was the playoffs at Seattle.

The Saints still had a great regular season, and the win at Atlanta was something to be proud of. I thought Dave's post putting things in perspective was incredibly good. If you haven't read it yet, you should. While the loss still stings and may for a while, at least we have a good team with a good core that has the capability of competing for years to come. Trust me, I've been a Saints fan for my entire life of 30 years (some of you even more than that, so you know what I'm talking about) and this franchise has never enjoyed this kind of success in a 5 year span, or ever. While we shouldn't be satisfied as fans with losses to teams we should beat (especially in the playoffs!), we should be satisfied with rooting for a team that has Super Bowl winning ability. Sadly, I now present you the grades for the last time this season:

Saints vs Seahawks coverage

Saints vs Seahawks recap

Saints vs Seahawks boxscore

Will Smith: D+ (1.33) Smith finished with 3 tackles and he hit Matt Hasselbeck once. As has been the case all season, Smith just looked slow in pursuit. He was also pushed out of the way several times on running plays. Russell Okung was a difficult matchup for sure. At one point, Smith tried a spin move, got turned around, and Okung just completely shoved him from the play by hitting him right in the back. For large stretches of the game he was completely manhandled. Let's hope he comes back next season in better shape and healthier.

Alex Brown: B- (2.67) He showed effort to try to bring down Lynch on that crazy run. He ran all the way downfield and made a valiant effort at Lynch's ankles diving. Still, like the rest of the defense, the tackling wasn't there. Brown did defend a pass and he had 6 tackles including two for a loss. Against the run he was very solid for most of the day. Pass rushing wise, he was completely neutralized. That's kind of the story with Brown this season. You get a guy that will carry out his assignment and stand his ground, but he won't make many flashy plays. I'm conflicted on whether I'd want him back as a starter next year or not. His lack of pressure on passing downs hurts.

Sedrick Ellis: C (2.00) He had 3 tackles but was way too quiet for a big game like this. The Seahawks got entirely too much going in the running game, largely thanks to their push up front.

Remi Ayodele: C- (1.67) He got pushed around and was never a factor against the run game. He allowed huge lanes up the middle and was routinely knocked off the ball. He finished with one tackle.

Jeff Charleston: C (2.00) Had two tackles and made no real impact.

Scott Shanle: B- (2.67) He tackled pretty well and helped against the run. He registered the lone sack of the day for the Saints on a blitz. He finished with 6 tackles and his pass coverage was mostly acceptable. The few times he allowed a completion he made an immediate tackle. He had a nice tackle on a short throw to Mike Williams.

Jonathan Vilma: C+ (2.33) He was tied for the team lead with 7 tackles. Unfortunately a lot of those were 5 yards downfield or more. His usual play recognition wasn't there. He was fooled by the number of third and short play action calls the Seahawks made. It seemed like every time the Seahawks ran play action, the Saints were completely fooled. Vilma did put a nice hit on Ben Obomanu on a high pass by Hasselbeck which would cause on interception. He joined the party on the let's not tackle Lynch ordeal.

Jo-Lonn Dunbar: B- (2.67) He finished with 7 tackles as well, three of which were in run support around the line of scrimmage. Like Vilma, he bit on fakes too much, but at least he was physical around the line of scrimmage.

Jabari Greer: C+ (2.33) He was helpful in run support and his interception was a huge play early that set up a 10-0 lead for the Saints. In coverage he was pretty good for most of the day, but he was beat deep by Mike Williams to cost the Saints dearly. That touchdown put the Saints down 31-20 and they would never recover. He also had 4 tackles. He probably deserves a better grade but his one mistake was just too costly.

Tracy Porter: B (3.00) He made a beautiful play on a short swing pass to John Carlson, where he made a hard tackle in the open field on the big tight end for a yard loss. They tried the same thing later on Porter with Obomanu. Result? 3 yard loss. For a little guy he sticks his nose in there and has some aggression. For whatever reason he seemed to have the most trouble with Brandon Stokley. How is Stokley still in the league? He had 5 tackles and also had a nice hit on Hasselbeck on a corner blitz that was a step too late.

Patrick Robinson: B- (2.67) He had two good plays defensively, and no major mistakes. The first was a tipped ball where he got in the passing lane of Hasselbeck. It was too bad that ball got tipped because it looked like Sharper may have had a jump on it for an interception. Still, give Robinson credit for being aware. Hasselbeck also went after him on a deep ball, and he had terrific tight coverage. That was one of the few times all game the deep ball didn't work.

Roman Harper: F- (-0.67) Can you have a negative GPA? I've never given a player an F- before. Documenting his failures in this game would be like re-writing the script for Dancing with Wolves from scratch. We know he's at his best around the box in run support and we know he's got limitations in coverage. Apparently the Seattle coaching staff knew that too, and they attacked him mercilessly all game long when passing. He was beaten for 3 touchdown passes. Twice it was deep balls that he played horribly. On one of them he bit so badly on a pump fake/double move that his pants were practically at his ankles trying to catch up. On John Carlson's second touchdown, the Seahawks' tight end fell down and Harper left his assignment to pursue the ball. Carlson got back up and caught a little powder puff toss for a score. Harper was flagged for pass interference and illegal contact once each, giving the Seahawks automatic first downs. On that disaster run by Marshawn Lynch, Roman Harper was the icing on the cake with the final missed tackle at the one yard line. Words can't even begin to descrive how bad he played. It was the worst individual performance I've seen from a Saint since maybe Aaron Brooks in the Katrina season. Absolutely horrible. Games are always a team effort, but I feel comfortable in saying that Roman Harper single handedly destroyed the Saints' playoff chances. Hey, he was my defensive MVP for the season coming into this game. He just didn't show up. He finished with 5 tackles and had one decent tackle on Lynch around the line of scrimmage using good backside pursuit.

Darren Sharper: D (1.00) He tried to help Greer over the top on a bomb to Mike Williams, but his ball skills on that play were surprisingly bad. As we've seen all season long, he was slow to the ball and bad at play recognition. He's clearly not right since surgery. He's been a liability out there. He finished with 5 tackles, missed a bunch others, and made little impact on the game. As much as everyone talked about how you have to account for Sharper at all times and know where he is on the field, I felt like Matt Hasselbeck did whatever he wanted, paying no attention to Sharper. I doubt Sharper will be back with the Saints last year and it's sad to see him end his quick but memorable stint with us this way.

Garrett Hartley: B- (2.67) While he went 3 for 3 on both field goals and extra points, no kick was longer than 26 yards out. He better hit those! He came into kickoff duty on the Saints' last two kicks (presumably because Morstead got destroyed on a punt by a rusher) and he horribly butchered an onsides attempt to seal the Saints' fate.

Thomas Morstead: B (3.00) He averaged a healthy 47.8 average on 4 punts and an amazing 44.75 net. On kickoffs, he struggled. The Saints wanted him to kick high and short to avoid getting the ball in Leon Washington's hands. The tactic was smart because Washington was arguably the best return man in the game this season (better stats than Hester or Cribbs). Unfortunately his first kickoff was fair caught at the 37, and the second was returned to the 30. He got better there as the game continued.

Ramon Humber: B (3.00) I'm giving him a good grade and he's my special teamer of the week. Why? Because he played a big part in limiting Leon Washington in the return game. The guy was signed solely to play special teams, and he posted two important tackles, stopping Washington at the 30 and 24. He doesn't make those tackles, and Washington potentially makes a big play. It was one of the few bright spots in terms of tackling.

My Defensive Player of the Game: Tracy Porter

My Special Teams Player of the Game: Ramon Humber