The Saints‘ defensive backfield gave up 97 yards passing to the Colts in this game. That is a shocking number. Literally under 100 yards. The pass defense throughout was outstanding. The run defense got gashed at times but the numbers look worse than actuality. Take back the two huge runs (42 by Delonte Carter and 24 by Donald Brown late) and you’re left with just 89 yards on 21 carries. That’s still not great, but it’s a lot better than yielding 155 yards rushing at 6.7 yards a pop. It’s hard to be too alarmed by the statistical lopsidedness of the effort, though, when the end result is a 7 point total. If the Saints defense can hold teams under 20, they will win pretty much every time with almost no exceptions. This was a tough one to grade because there were so many three and outs that there just wasn’t much tape to review. Consider the Saints ran 73 offensive plays vs. just 45 for the Colts. That means the Colts were on offense roughly 38% of the time. This wasn’t about one player putting up a huge sack total, or one guy notching double digit tackles. It was about a unit consistently getting stops. How weak the opponent was played a big part in that, no doubt, but the execution over by the defense should be applauded. Make the jump for the grades.
Will Smith: B- (2.67) He had just one tackle, but he did a great job getting pressure. He was constantly held and almost no flags were thrown, which is just ridiculous. He ended up getting one holding penalty called but he deserved at least five. He fought constant double teams and chips to still be disruptive. He also had good pursuit on the big run by Carter. My only gripe is twice he seemed to blow tackles, once on Curtis Painter who wiggled away from his sack and once on Carter who slipped out of his grasp. Smith is way too big to have guys like that slipping out of his tackle.
Cameron Jordan: B+ (2.43) A solid contribution from the rookie who finished with 3 tackles and a defended pass on a tip. He plays hard and stays after it. He also came up with a huge turnover on a fumble under the pile and I have no idea how he came up with it because it seemed like Delonte Carter fell right on top of the ball. I don’t know that he’s fully arrived as a starter in the league yet but he’s clearly capable of becoming a consistently productive player.
Jeff Charleston: C+ (2.22) He came in and showed a good motor. His pressure was existent but always late. He did end up with one tackle and one knockdown.
Sedrick Ellis: B- (2.19) Like Smith he was very difficult to grade because he played with tremendous effort, was often around the ball, applied good pressure, and used good leverage against the run… but he wasn’t rewarded statistically for it. Just one tackle and a tipped pass that came very close to being an interception for one of his teammates.
Aubrayo Franklin: C- (1.95) He was in the middle and he moved the pile some, but it was a quiet day for Franklin. No tackles recorded, and he didn’t have a big enough effect on the Colts’ running game.
Shaun Rogers: B (1.95) Not a bad day for Rogers who got good jumps off the ball and was generally disruptive in the Colts’ backfield. Most encouraging was he played to the whistle and helped his teammates finish off plays. He finished with 3 tackles.
Tom Johnson: A (2.56) The defensive tackle finished with 4 tackles and was in the mix against the run, but his forced fumble on Carter was one of the defensive plays of the day. The game was still competitive when he made that play and it completely took the wind out of the Colts’ sails. On his forced fumble, he had incredibly pressure from the backside, found the rusher, and the ball, and somehow found a way to knock it loose. A very impressive play.
Scott Shanle: C+ (2.09) He finished with 2 tackles but both were good solid plays that stopped decent plays from turning into huge ones. He didn’t made any glaring mistakes and seemed to play within himself. A quiet day overall.
Jonathan Vilma: B+ (2.45) A solid showing by the defensive leader as he tackled well, pursued well, and absorbed blocks better than I’ve seen him do this season. Maybe he’s finally getting healthy. He was also very solid in coverage. He finished with 4 tackles and came up with a big fumble recovery early in the game. He’s building his GPA back up after a slow start to the season.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar: B- (2.61) He helped against the run and made no major mistakes. Dunbar is playing decent football right now and he’s been a valuable addition to the linebacking core. Hopefully he can keep it up. He had 4 tackles.
Jonathan Casillas: A- (2.38) A very solid showing from Casillas. His major liability has continually been coverage and I noticed some good things in that area in this game. Of course, true to form, he was a consistent threat blitzing. He led the team with 5 tackles and got a sack.
Patrick Robinson: B (2.76) He continues to be the ballhawk of this defense lately. He came very close to another interception jumping all over a route. He had just 2 tackles but his coverage was excellent. Oddly, Robinson started the season after week 1 as one of the worst graded players on defense and now he has the highest GPA of qualifying players.
Jabari Greer: B (2.57) The pass he broke up covering Pierre Garcon downfield on the opening play of the game was huge. He came close to picking that off and did well to run with one of the fastest guys in the league. He also made a very nice tackle near the line of scrimmage early. He also missed a couple tackles he should have made, but his coverage was solid throughout. He also had 2 tackles.
Tracy Porter: B (2.47) A quiet day with 2 tackles but he had a big pass breakup on a third down play. He was good in coverage.
Leigh Torrence: A (3.13) He had one tackle but he came up with a pick that he ran back 42 yards for a score. He showed good toughness breaking arm tackles at the end of that runback to get in the end zone. That and Tom Johnson’s forced fumble were the two biggest highlights of the day defensively.
Malcolm Jenkins: C (2.19) No major mistakes from Jenkins but he ended up with just 2 tackles. He did showcase another monster hit, but he’s just not coming up with big plays at all. When is he going to get his first interception? This is the third straight game he’s gotten a C, and 5th time in 7 weeks. That’s not normal.
Roman Harper: C- (1.81) Leave it to Harper to look bad in a 62-7 win. He blew a few tackles that cost the Saints big gains against the run. I’m not convinced he’s gotten his confidence back from that Seattle game. He still doesn’t seem to have regained that high level of play he had prior to the playoffs last year. He did finish with 3 tackles and knocked down Painter on a blitz. He left the game early with an apparent injury so hopefully he’s alright and can regain the 2010 midseason form he had.
Jonathon Amaya: B- (2.84) He put a nice hit on Dan Orlovsky, did his thing on special teams, and came in for Roman Harper at strong safety and looked OK out there. A decent showing from him, and he may start next week if Harper isn’t recovered in time.
John Kasay: A (3.43) He drilled a 47 yarder which I half expect him to miss, and he continues to impress and do what is asked of him. His lone misses this season have been 50 yarders, and he continues to do a good job and deliver. Garrett Hartley is all but forgotten for the time being. He also made another short field goal and all his extra points.
Thomas Morstead: A- (3.48) Of the 10 kickoffs he attempted, 9 went for touchbacks. That’s almost unfair. He also blasted his lone punt 53 yards but it was returned for 13 yards. A limited degree of difficulty for him this time, but his leg strength on kickoffs shouldn’t be taken for granted.
My Defensive Player of the Game: Tom Johnson
My Special Teams Player of the Game: John Kasay