Poor tackling, an inability to cover tight ends, no pressure on the quarterback and leaky run defense. Does that sound familiar? Yep. The 2011 version of the New Orleans Saints defense strikes again.
I don't see how I can really put it any more politely than "not good." They gave up 26 points, so there's that. But they also gave up 420 yards of offense, got no turnovers, got no sacks and yielded 4.7 yards a carry. The word "atrocious" comes to mind.
In fact, the Saints can thank Josh Freeman for not being all that good overall with the low point total. He threw terrific passes on both touchdown tosses, but beyond that he was largely inaccurate and non-threatening. I'm really starting to wonder if this unit is going to put it together this year. Below are the... gulp... grades.
Saints vs Buccaneers coverageWill Smith: C- (2.67) He had 1 tackle and did ok applying pressure but was always too late getting to Freeman. He did get one knock down, but he didn't help at all against the run. A quiet performance overall.
Cameron Jordan: B- (2.28) Much like his scouting report on draft day suggested, he's decent against the run, he hustles and he gets after it, but he's just not explosive enough to really be a pass rushing threat. That was painfully evident throughout. You have to give Jordan credit though because he finished with 6 tackles and most of that was playing his heart out and helping his teammates finish off tackles. With that kind of effort he'll see a lot more starts.
Junior Galette: C+ (2.42) The one play he made was awesome, but he was nowhere to be seen after that. Part of that was lack of playing time, but he also struggled to really provide good pressure off the edge when he was in. His one play was a nice gap shot up the middle on an end around that he completely blew up. As he missed the tackle, he got up, pursued to the sideline and got in on the tackle. Great effort that and for that play alone he deserves praise.
Turk McBride: D (1.89) Did he seriously even play? He was non existent and bad against the run.
Sedrick Ellis: C- (2.11) His play in this game and this season has just been depressing. He had one tackle, rolled his ankle, and provided no help against the run.
Shaun Rogers: C (1.78) His lone tackle was a beautiful stuff on a Earnest Graham carry. Too bad he didn't build off of that. Sadly that C boosts his GPA for the year. Sounds about right.
Aubrayo Franklin: C (2.00) He had a nice offsides jump and a whooping 1 tackle. He actually played ok at times on the interior though, and of the 4 defensive tackles he was by far the most serviceable, granted that's not saying much. His lone tackle too was a nice stuff of Graham for no gain.
Tom Johnson: C (1.84) His lone tackle dropped Graham for a yard loss. I love it how I keep talking about these stops like Graham had a bad game, but really he gashed the Saints for over 100 yards.
Scott Shanle: B (2.06) I actually thought this was one of his better games of the season. He looked faster in pursuit than he's looked all season long. His pass defense was mostly pretty good, including two breakups and a near interception. He also finished with 6 tackles including one for a loss. If Shanle played like that every week the Saints would be much better off defensively.
Jonathan Vilma: B- (2.27) He too wasn't bad in coverage, and he looked to regain a little speed that was clearly missing the last few weeks. He did whiff on some tackles though and that needs to be corrected. He finished with 5 tackles and was more physical and quicker sideline to sideline. Maybe he's finally getting out of this slump he's been in.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar: C- (2.60) He finished with 3 tackles and was out of position way too often. His play recognition was poor and he's completely loss on play action fakes.
Jonathan Casillas: C- (2.17) Sir blitz a lot had 2 tackles and didn't contribute much at all.
Ramon Humber: C- (1.67) He actually played some at linebacker and put a nice hit on Freeman. He also had a meaningless tackle and was victimized once in coverage. Definitely nothing special.
Jabari Greer: C (2.50) Greer was tough to trade because he actually had two phenomenal pass break ups but he was very poor running up and making tackles. Too many times is arm tackles at player's ankles did nothing to slow down the runner. I settled on a C but I honestly could have been meaner. Not a very good game. He had 4 tackles.
Tracy Porter: D (2.33) He had 4 tackles and was beat like a drum in coverage. He gave up a 19 yard touchdown pass to Preston Parker and in general played very poorly. He didn't tackle well and punished his coaches for giving him back his starting place. A performance to very quickly forget for him.
Patrick Robinson: B+ (2.72) He was the best Saint defender on the day. He defended two passes including one that was very close to being an interception. After that woeful game against the Packers, Robinson is rebounding nicely and having himself a very strong season. The guy just keeps getting better. Twice on little bubble screens he fought through blocks and made vicious tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He finished with 4 tackles and covered well. With a measly 2.72 he is the highest rated defensive player on my grading scale so far this season.
Malcolm Jenkins: C (2.22) He led the Saints with 7 tackles and was credited with 2 defended passes. By far his two biggest plays were on third down plays where the Saints got good pressure, Freeman got rid of the ball over the middle with a floating pass, and Jenkins demolished a would be receiver for the ball to fall harmlessly incomplete. Those were massive hits and Jenkins was often found around the line of scrimmage laying wood and being physical. He had his share of mistakes as well. He was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty I don't agree with, he had a poor angle and poor speed on the 69 yard touchdown pass to Arrelious Benn, and he missed a tackle on the other touchdown pass when Tracy Porter got beat coming over to help. I would say it was 1 step forward and 2 steps back for Jenkins much of the game.
Roman Harper: D+ (1.83) He missed tackles numerous times. One of Earnest Graham's huge runs was a play where Harper had a routine tackle to make, and instead of wrapping up he went for the knockout blow which would result in the Saints getting gashed for a big run. He had 6 tackles but was victimized in passing situations as well. Honestly, if he tackles better he could have had about 15 tackles in this game. Of course he got flagged for pass interference on a tight end as well, his specialty. Covering Kellen Winslow was a nightmare matchup, but then again that seems to be the case for anyone he's running with on any given week.
John Kasay: B+ (3.33) I'm not going to give him better than a B+ when he makes 2 kicks inside 34 yards and doesn't kick off, but Kasay did what was asked of him once again. He's making the most of this opportunity and he's been accurate. He was 2 for 2 on field goals and 2 for 2 on extra points. He's kicking way too many short field goals if you ask me, though.
Thomas Morstead: A (3.45) Not only is he second in the NFL in touchbacks, and of course he added to that total against the Bucs, but he averaged a net of 49 yards a punt in this game. 49 yards! NET! That is UNHEARD OF. It's not like he just hit one, either. He hit four for an average for 55 yards gross. His longest was 61. Morstead's leg strength physically scares me. He is murdering the ball right now. Morstead may only be 7th in the NFL in punting gross, which by definition perhaps means he doesn't have the strongest leg, but he's 1st in net average which means he's the best. Kudos man. His average net through 6 games is 44.7. 44.7 isn't even the average gross for half the punters in the NFL. Do you guys realize how scary good that is?!?! He clearly deserves the highest GPA on the team through 6 games ahead of Sproles, Graham and Brees.
Jonathon Amaya: B (3.00) He was useful on coverage units, providing the Saints with 2 tackles.
My Defensive Player of the Game: Patrick Robinson
My Special Teams Player of the Game: Thomas Morstead