Monday, September 28, 2009

Saints Nation: Player Grades @ Bills

Terrific overall performance by the Saints in their 27-7 road win over the Bills. Below you'll find the grade for each player in the game. Remember, the GPA you see in parentheses is their GPA for the season (not the game).


Drew Brees: C- (3.11)
Not Brees' finest performance. You could see both teams struggling to pass and that was in large part due to the windy conditions. That said, Brees held on to the ball longer than usual and his accuracy was clearly affected. He lost a fumble, didn't throw for a touchdown, and threw for under 200 yards.

Pierre Thomas: A (4.0)
Wow. What else can you say? The guy doesn't play an entire half, comes in cold, and runs for 126 yards on 14 carries and 2 TD's? That's right, all that work was done in one half. He would've gotten and A+ if he had played the whole game. The Bills could not stop Pierre as he continually gashed them for big plays. He looked elusive and tough through the hole. Thomas put the Saints offense on his back and led them to victory.

Reggie Bush: B- (2.0)
Much much better performance from Bush. He amassed 64yds on 13 carries, and added another 17 on 3 catches. He ran forward and looked speedy through the hole. His first half was overall very encouraging and hopefully he can build on this performance. His punt returning continues to be an absolute atrocity, though, and I am calling for the Saints to activate Rod Harper for those duties. PLEASE.

Lynell Hamilton: B (3.0)
Hamilton got the start and finally got a chance to show his ability in a real game. He finished with 5 carries for 24 yards and 1 touchdown. Pedestrian stats, but Hamilton gets his grade for showing impressive power on two crucial short yardage situations. First, he somehow got his way into the endzone on a play from the 1 yard line despite a very crowded line, and then he muscled his way through two tackles to pick up a first down. Both plays gained little yardage, but they showed how tough he can be. He also had a nifty 16 yard scamper.

Heath Evans: B (3.33)
Evans didn't get any stats in this game, but he was the lead blocker for these statistics: 38 carries, 222yds, 5.8 per carry and 3 TD's. Evans was paving the way for a stellar rushing performance all day long. He threw a huge block that sprung Pierre Thomas' back breaking 34 yard score to give the Saints a 17-7 lead.

Jeremy Shockey: B+ (3.44)
Shockey has been awesome. There were two situations where I thought he missed his blocking assignment (once namingly on the tripping penalty), but otherwise blocked well and he is a huge weapon in the passing game. He absorbs hits over the middle making tough catches - showing reliability and soft hands. He finished with 6 catches for 48 yards.

Marques Colston: B (3.11)
Colston was nothing short of amazing on the opening drive, but he had just one reception the rest of the way. Again, the wind was largely to blame, but it was disappointing to see his stat line end at 4 catches for 67 yards after making 3 grabs on that first drive. Colston also was seen running poor routes for a good part of the game.

Devery Henderson: B+ (3.55)
Brees didn't look Henderson's way much, but when he did Henderson was good. Henderson ended with 3 grabs for 40 yards. What impressed me the most about Henderson, though, was his downfield blocking. Bush's long run of 17 got at least an extra 5 yds at the end thanks to Devery's effort. That guy is never afraid to stick his nose in there and help the running game. Give him credit also for disrupting a deep ball thrown into triple coverage by Drew Brees. That pass was a sure interception, and he managed to get in there and cause the ball to fall harmlessly incomplete.

Jermon Bushrod: B- (2.78)
Mixed bag from Bushrod, which seems to be his usual. Consistently inconsistent. On the touchdown run by Hamilton, he did a terrific job moving the pile away from the runner. He also did a terrific job handling Schobel on numerous occasions. On the bad side, Bushrod also gave up a sack that led to a fumble and turnover. That sack was partially Brees' fault for holding on to the ball too long, but Bushrod was run over. Before leaving with an ankle injury, he also jumped offsides.

Zach Strief: B+ (3.11)
I personally think Strief has been great, and I like him at left tackle better than Bushrod. Give him a lot of credit for the Hamilton touchdown, too, because along with Bushrod he opened that hole for Lynell to squeak through. His size really makes it hard to get around him, which is great for pass blocking around the edge. As always he did well as the "blocking tight end", but he also filled in for an injured Bushrod and played well.

Carl Nicks: B- (3.34)
Nicks had a tough assignment facing Kyle Williams. He was beaten a couple times, and victimized by a holding call that hurt the Saints, but he won his fair share of battles too. His pass blocking was overall spotty, and when Brees would step up in the pocket to avoid pressure off the edge he would sometimes get hit by Nicks' man. Give Nicks credit for his run blocking, though.

Jonathan Goodwin B+ (3.44)
Goodwin is becoming one of the more reliable players on the entire offensive line. His agility week to week is so impressive. He can really move for a center and you can tell his chemistry with Brees is much improved from a year ago. Solid game.

Jahri Evans A (3.67)
Every time you saw Bush, Hamilton or Thomas downfield, Evans was right down there with them. He was the common denominator on almost every single big play the Saints' offense had. If this guy doesn't make the Pro Bowl this year then the voting process needs to be revised. Through 3 games he's shown why he's such a special player. I'm sold after today he's the best player on the Saints line, including a healthy Jammal Brown.

Jon Stinchcomb C+ (2.56)
Stinchcomb got Brees sacked once on a poor block, and he had a terrible clip that was easily caught by the refs. Overall Stinchcomb needs to raise his play. He deserves credit too for the rushing performance, but overall I thought he was the worst offensive lineman for the Saints on the day. I've seen him play much better in the past and I know he can do better.


Will Smith A (2.56)
Finally, Will Smith showed up and showed fans what he can do. Man, was he on his game. Smith made a phenomenal play on a 3rd and very short, blasting through the line and smacking Fred Jackson back for a loss. He got a sack and ended with 5 tackles, and was a constant pest to the Bills both stacking up the run and getting in Trent Edward's face. His biggest play was when he ended a Bills drive in Saints territory with the score still 10-7 in the 2nd half, as he made a tough catch off a tipped pass to get his first interception of the season.

Charles Grant B+ (1.89)
I have to say I had all but given up on Sir Charles, but he showed new signs of life. My main complaint with him is still that he makes great plays before disappearing for extended periods of play. Today it was better. He was especially solid against the run all day long, and ended with 1.5 sacks on the day. I was surprised to see how much pressure he put on the Bills on passing downs. Nice to see, let's hope he can keep it up.

Bobby McCray C- (2.17)
Just 1 tackle for McCray, but he was beaten a few times and looked lost out there. The Saints lined him up a few times at outside rushing linebacker in the 3-4, a position Fujita usually mans, and McCray didn't do much to distinguish himself. He still struggles mightily against the run.

Anthony Hargrove D+ (2.17)
Hargrove was slapped twice with what I thought were harsh personal fouls. Still, he cost the Saints 30 yards in penalties. He did end with 4 tackles, but overall Hargrove showed a total lack of poise in this game.

Sedrick Ellis A- (3.22)
Ellis was fantastic. He rushed the passer well, he was effective against the run, and his motor is impressive. Ellis was involved in several plays downfield. You have to love the guy's ability, but also his hustle and effort. He ended with 5 tackles and a sack.

Remi Ayodele B- (1.84)
I was shocked to see he ended up with no statistics in the game, because I thought he was pretty good. I think the statisticians robbed him of at least a couple assisted tackles. He was great on the interior disrupting the pile and creating opportunities for the players around him to make plays. On Will Smith's sack, Ayodele was responsible for the pressure and forced Edwards to step right into Smith. He deserves credit for the Saints performance against the run today.

Scott Fujita B+ (2.78)
Fujita started off the game horrible. He bit very badly on a play action fake, missed a tackle, and got beat on a passing play. I was thinking to myself he is slowly but surely headed towards an F. But Fujita never relented and continued to play the solid football we are so used to seeing from him. After the first two drives, Fujita was starting to deliver A material. He was sure in his tackles and showed anticipation in his reads. He ended with 9 tackles and ran well sideline to sideline. He's not flashy but the guy handles his responsibilities well.

Scott Shanle C+ (3.00)
Shanle was quiet, and not as good as what I saw the first couple weeks. He did finish with 6 tackles, but was beaten again on a few passing plays and was out of position on a couple of running plays that led to bigger gains for Fred Jackson.

Jonathan Vilma B (3.11)
Vilma delivered a HUGE blow on Fred Jackson on the opening drive of the game. I'm sure Jackson is still hurting from that one. Vilma had 5 tackles, and did a good job hitting Edwards a couple times on blitzes. Vilma's one huge mistake was leaving his receiver on the fake field goal to rush the holder/punter/passer. That left his man wide open and gave him an easy trot to the end zone. While the first down was a given if he stays with his man, at least it forces the Bills to continue the drive as oppose to giving them the sure touchdown. But overall, as always, he did a great job leading the troops and participating in gang tackles.

Marvin Mitchell B (3.0)
Extended action for Mitchell today in the 3-4 alignment. 6 tackles for him as well as he was heavily involved and did a good job against the run. I hope we get to see more of him - he seems like a promising young player.

Jabari Greer A (3.55)
Terrell Owens was held catchless for the first time since 1996. What more can you say? Greer had arguably the game of his life. He completely shut down one of the most decorated receivers in NFL history. He was beyond solid against the pass. Owens did beat him once down the seam, but Edwards thankfully overthrew the pass. Greer finished with 6 tackles. What a great pickup for the Saints.

Tracy Porter B+ (3.11)
Porter was good, too. He was matched up against Lee Evans most of the day, and Evans had just 4 catches for 31 yards. Again, the wind was a factor, but when TO and Evans combine for 4 catches - that's a stellar performance by your corners.

Randall Gay B (3.0)
Gay was sent blitzing early and often. He was a defensive end as much as he was a corner in this game. He was in Edwards' face all day long and even got half a sack to his name. Gay also ended with 3 tackles and did a good job in coverage.

Malcolm Jenkins B (3.34)
Jenkins had yet another game changing play on special teams. His force fumble and recovery was a thing of beauty. The guy is clearly a playmaker, and you can tell the Saints recognize that as he was seen playing more and more on defense later in the game. His grade is hurt a little bit by the bone headed block in the back he had on one punt return.

Roman Harper A- (3.11)
Less exposed than usual in the passing game, Harper was in the box all day making plays and laying hard hits on anyone in his way. He was sent blitzing often, and was a headache for Edwards, literally. He made plays in the backfield and around the line of scrimmage often. A very solid performance for Harper, who ended with a game high 10 tackles. His best game of the season by far.

Darren Sharper C (3.0)
Sharper was quiet and ended with just 2 tackles. Didn't have much work on the back end as the deep ball was mostly taken out of the playbook given the weather. He did manage to have a bone headed late hit that game the Bills a free 15 yards.


John Carney B+ (2.89)
Didn't miss a kick, so he was solid. He was 2 for 2 on field goals with a long of 35. Nothing special, but he did what was asked of him.

Thomas Morstead B+ (3.33)
Morstead consistently got great depth on his kickoffs, and boomed his punts pretty good. He ended with an average of 42.6 on 5 punts, but his best punt was a short effort downed inside the 5. With a GPA of 3.33 through 3 games, you get the idea that this guy is a keeper. Great draft choice by the Saints.

Courtney Roby C- (2.0)
Roby got a shot at one return, and he had a chance to break it wide and get a good return. Unfortunately a good open field tackle was made - and Roby's day was basically done. Roby did a good job helping on coverage units, but not much chance to show his stuff.