The Saints shut out the Rams in the second half and have only given up one touchdown in the last six games in the second half. Pretty impressive adjustment ability by Dennis Allen. The Saints held Todd Gurley to 50 yards on 13 carries and gave up only 247 total yards. One of the scoring drives was from inside the 10, so it’s hard to blame them at all on that one. The other two drives were a concerning lack of a pass rush (despite blitzing) and suspect coverage at times. Overall it was another solid day – thankfully – because special teams is another story. More poor returns, poor kick coverage, and a fumble. Below are the grades:
Cam Jordan: B- (2.79) As good as he’s been lately I didn’t feel he performed as well in this game. He flashes and kind of came and went, more than being constantly disruptive. At the end of the day it was a generous stat line of 4 tackles and a sack. He did a good job overall against the run. Was also flagged once for offsides.
Tyeler Davison: B (2.60) Set up a lot of his teammates to make plays by eating space and being stout against the run. He’s been under the radar good lately. Finished with 2 tackles. He’s been such a big part of the solid run defense up the middle.
Nick Fairley: B (2.70) Like Jordan he flashed, but he’s been a disruptive force up the middle all season long. He had 3 tackles, including one for a loss. His play this year justifies making him the offseason priority.
Paul Kruger: C- (2.13) Honestly, he was facing a brand new starter at left tackle – that left due to injury – and then he basically faced the Rams’ third string left tackle (Robinson was inactive). He was completely ineffective throughout. Considering what he was facing he should have flashed more. He probably deserves a D-, but he was Johnny on the spot with the fumble recovery. Turnovers are huge so I have his grade a nice boost. He’s got to provide more than just a bull rush all the time, though. He’s been a disappointment this season.
Kasim Edebali: C+ (2.00) I’d like to see him more on 3rd downs. He had a good pass rush play flushing Goff out of the pocket which led to an incomplete pass. Also had one tackle.
Sheldon Rankins: B+ (3.17) What a major boost he’s been to this defense. He’s made a pass rushing impact in every game he’s played. He had 2 tackles and a huge sack which forced a fumble and eventually led to a touchdown.
Darryl Tapp: C (2.43) Normally making the most of limited reps, I only really noticed him converging in on a run play after the tackle was already made. Didn’t show much in limited play.
David Onyemata: C (2.06) He finished with 1 tackle and made no major mistakes. Quiet performance.
Craig Robertson: B- (2.82) Lead the team with 6 tackles. Good closing gaps and running lanes for Gurley. Less good pursuing to the edge, but the Rams have some quick guys in Gurley and Tavon Austin. His coverage was fine overall.
Nate Stupar: C (2.36) Only two tackles, one which was at the very end of a long kickoff return. When he was in defensively, he didn’t make much of an impact.
Dannell Ellerbe: C+ (3.00) He finished with 5 tackles and a sack. While he continues to rush the passer pretty well, I thought this was one of the least impressive games from him overall this season. He was hit or miss against the run, missing a couple tackles and not filling lanes that well. He had a couple spotty coverage moments, too. His holding penalty took away a Bell sack.
Delvin Breaux: B (2.59) Fell down on a play early which led to a nice Kenny Britt reception and gain. After that he was solid in coverage and didn’t really allow anything downfield. Pressed the Rams receivers and finished with two tackles.
Sterling Moore: B- (2.54) Did a solid job in coverage for the most part, the Rams didn’t go after him much. He finished with 3 tackles, mostly downfield finishing off run plays. His edge blitzing didn’t really make much impact.
B. W. Webb: C- (2.48) Was beaten by Tavon Austin on the first touchdown throw. Was also beaten in the 2 minute drill by Britt. Did a good job breaking up a 3rd and 7 pass near the sideline to get the defense off the field. So it was a mixed bag. He had 2 tackles, but you can crush him too bad on the score because the coverage was pretty good – just a great throw and Austin is a quick player that’s tough to stay with in man.
Vonn Bell: C (2.60) Didn’t do a great job blitzing, despite being sent often. His lone sack was negated by a penalty. His coverage was hit or miss, too, and he gave Kendricks too much space on the touchdown pass. He has to be able to trust his instincts and close on the ball downfield a bit more. Finished with 3 tackles and a defended pass.
Jairus Byrd: B- (2.21) Very sound tackling at the second level prevented a few decent gains from being much bigger. He also read a pass in the flat and hit the running back for a loss. Gave the Saints a secure set of hands on punt returns, too, but he let one ball bounce away from him that he could have fielded for a fair catch if he tracked it better.
Kenny Vaccaro: B+ (2.90) Good against the run but he was absolutely rocked by a blocker at one point off the edge – glad he wasn’t hurt there. Finished with 4 tackles. His coverage wasn’t always perfect but he made the defensive play of the game with a perfectly timed jump on a timing route to get his second interception of the season. Had nice return yardage that was called back by a questionable down by contact call.
Wil Lutz: C+ (2.42) He was a perfect 7 for 7 on extra points, with no field goals attempted. Remember, all PATs are from 33 yards, though, so to go 7 for 7 from there is solid. His lift/get off was solid throughout and all kicks went through the uprights. So that was solid. His kickoffs, on the other hand, were very inconsistent. Some of them came out flat, others were deep but very returnable and some were shanked. He continues to be pretty up and down.
Thomas Morstead: C (3.09) Punted four times for an average of 44.8. Unfortunately, two of them went for touchbacks – very rare to see him do that. As a result, his net was only 32.3 which is very low for him. Not his best showing. He goes from the highest graded Saint (qualified) to third behind Brees and Strief.
Shiloh Keo: B+ (3.33) As bad as special teams were, he had two tackles and recovered Lewis’s disaster muff fumble. He’s been a good pickup and he gets my “special teams player of the game” for the second straight week.
(Tommylee Lewis grade was listed on offense)
Chris Banjo: C- (1.67) He had one tackle on a kickoff after being signed as a specialist. Unfortunately, he was offside on that kickoff and 5 yards were tacked on to the end of the run. Sounds like he’ll fit right in with this unit.
Justin Drescher: B+ (2.25) The times I write about him it usually means he did something bad, so I like to take opportunities to praise him. He was solid snapping and cleaned up a tackle in coverage.
My defensive player of the game: Kenny Vaccaro
My special teams player of the game: Shiloh Keo