Monday, September 21, 2009

Saints Nation: Player Grades @ Eagles

Below you'll find my grades for the Eagles game. You'll first see the letter grade for that player's performance in the game, and in parentheses behind it the player's cumulative GPA for the season (so through 2 games thus far). Keep in mind some players listed below may not have received a grade for their first game if they didn't receive enough playing time.


Drew Brees: A- (3.83)
Another stellar performance by Brees. He did hang on to the ball longer than usual which resulted in him getting plastered a couple times - so I was glad to see him get up. His interception, while a dangerous throw in traffic, was more a result of a tremendously athletic play. Brees also fumbled once. Beyond that, he found open receivers almost at will and his accuracy was pinpoint as always. 311 yards and 3 TD's.

Mike Bell: A- (3.67)
Bell gets his second straight A- grade after a terrific performance. He had great burst through the hole, and did a fantastic job of finishing his runs. He also had a nifty reception that he turned upfield for a positive gain. Too bad he got injured, this gives Pierre Thomas a chance to reclaim his job. Bell finished with 86yds on the ground, which included a very impressive 7 yard power run into the end zone for a TD.

Reggie Bush: C+ (1.67)
Bush did very well again in the passing game, where he showed soft hands and an ability to make plays. His punt returns were once again an atrocity as he continues to run backwards to create something before losing a significant chunk of yardage. Makes you wonder when Rod Harper will get his chance. He became the primary running back once Bell went down with the injury, and was hit or miss. The one play he made that was terrific was an off left tackle burst where Bush showed his incredible quickness and speed. That play went 19 yards for a touchdown. A nice surprise was that he also showed some decent pass protection for Brees.

Heath Evans: A- (3.5)
Evans had another terrific game. This was my take on his effort last week "Evans was solid in run blocking, and spectacular catching the football. He showed soft hands, decent speed, and terrific toughness when the football came his way." Sound familiar? The touchdown reception he had this week was a thing of beauty. And for all the great things Mike Karney did, I can see why the Saints went with Evans.

Devery Henderson: B+ (3.67)
Henderson ended the game with 3 catches for 71 yards. He did have a drop on an easy toss over the middle, but did you guys see that catch he made down the sideline on 3rd down for 38 yards? First off, that should have been pass interference because the defender was all over him. Secondly, that catch was sick. One of the best catches I've seen made by a Saints player. More than made up for the drop he had. Henderson also had a nifty move to avoid a defender on a reception before showing off his speed to pick up a first down. He's off to a terrific start this season.

Marques Colston: A (3.17)
Nice rebound for Colston who I thought was up and down last week. With his 2td's in this game he now has 3 for the year, so he's off to a tremendous start. Colston finished with 8 grabs for 98 yards and was very good blocking downfield. He used his wide frame to get valuable tough yards after the catch, and his second touchdown was a thing of beauty - using his height to catch the ball at it's highest point before absorbing a hit on his way down and holding on to the football.

Robert Meachem: C+ (3.0)
Quiet afternoon for Meachem. He did have a huge 3rd down conversion reception for 11 yards, and a reverse for 15 yards, but beyond that he wasn't very involved. Surprising because with Lance Moore out he got plenty of reps. He made the most of the two times he touched the ball, but would have liked to see him more involved as much as the Saints threw the ball.

Jeremy Shockey: B+ (3.5)
I was surprised to see that Shockey's stat line was just 4 catches for 49 yards because he had 3 grabs on the opening touchdown drive alone. Still, Shockey made terrific plays over the middle and opened up the offense early for the Saints. He let the Eagles know early in the contest they were going to need to respect him over the middle. He showed solid blocking and sure hands throughout the game. He disappeared a little bit in the second half, but the Saints didn't suffer much from it.

David Thomas: B- (2.67)
I didn't give him a grade last week because he wasn't involved much, but his reps picked up this week. He's showing he's a reliable target for Brees that can help the Saints with Billy Miller gone for the season. Thomas ended with 2 catches for 19 yards, but was also the target on Brees' interception. He was open and would have had a first down if Brees could've gotten the ball to him. I didn't get a chance to really evaluate his blocking, but I didn't notice anything unforgivable.

Jermon Bushrod: B (2.84)
Bushrod was assigned with a very tough task going up against Trent Cole. He gave up a sack where Cole beat him around the edge and almost got Drew Brees killed. I was relieved to see Brees get up from that hit. Beyond that, Bushrod was pretty solid. I thought it was an improvement both in the run blocking and pass blocking from a week ago. He neutralized Cole pretty well after the sack, and had a nice block on Bush's TD run.

Carl Nicks: A- (3.67)
Nicks is an absolute MAULER. This is his second straight A- performance and I think the Saints really got themselves a great player.

Jahri Evans: B (3.5)
Not the performance we saw from Evans a week ago, but he was still very solid. He did have a false start penalty, his first penalty of the season. His man also hit Brees once or twice that I can remember on passing plays after Brees got rid of the football - but overall solid. He did a great job on the interior creating room for Mike Bell to run. Before the intentional safety, he was pushed around a little bit as Bush tried to run behind him.

Jonathan Goodwin: A- (3.5)
I thought Goodwin improved significantly from a week ago. I saw him downfield several times on running plays. Goodwin shows a good amount of speed and agility for a player of his size. Despite a number of shotgun snaps, his snaps were always on target, and he sprung Mike Bell's terrific touchdown run. He always seemed to be involved on the big running plays.

Jon Stinchcomb: B- (2.57)
He was lucky he wasn't called for a facemask penalty and/or a hold on that swing pass to Reggie Bush that turned into a big gain. Could have negated a huge play. Stinchcomb was also beat on a pass play that resulted in Brees getting sacked and fumbling. Stinchcomb, however, was more solid than usual in run blocking. Brees did a good job stepping up in the pocket anytime he felt pressure from the outside.

Zach Strief: B (3.0)
I'd love to see this guy play more. He's huge, and I can remember him sealing the edge twice to create HUGE cutback lanes for Mike Bell that turned into runs of 10+ yards. The one thing I don't like is anytime he's in the game as the #2 tight end it's very obvious the Saints are running the football. I don't think I've seen them throw one time in two games with Strief lined up at tight end. I wonder if he's not only better than Bushrod at left tackle, but possibly better than Stinchcomb at right tackle? Either way, great backup to have and he's been playing well for 2 straight weeks.


Charles Grant: D+ (1.17)
I don't know how I'm supposed to give this guy a better grade when he's a top 5 paid player on the team and he posts 1 tackle. Again, he was completely invisible for big chunks of time and his pass rushing performance was forgettable. At least this week I saw him hit Kolb as he released a pass once. Grant seemed lost against the wildcat, and while his run support was ok at times, I just need to see more out of him.

Will Smith: C- (1.84)
Unlike Grant, Smith at least provided some pressure at times to Kolb. Smith is the king of getting there too late to get a sack, but early enough to disrupt things a little. He ended with 1 tackle as well, and he too was invisible for large chunks of time. The Saints 4 man rush is as bad as I remember it being a year ago.

Sedrick Ellis: B+ (3.0)
Ellis was pretty good last week, but he was much better this week. The big man posted 4 tackles and was downfield on plays where the Eagles made plays. He showed terrific athleticism, hustle, and fire. The Saints gave up only 85 yards rushing (on 21 carries) and Ellis was a big part of that.

Remi Ayodele: D (1.0)
Ayodele posted 1 tackle and didn't impress filling in for the injured Kendrick Clancy. Ayodele doesn't have Clancy's football IQ, grit or experience - and it showed. Clancy can't get back soon enough.

Bobby McCray: B- (2.67)
I'll give McCray a B- because he at least got a sack and hit Kolb hard on another play that resulted in an incomplete pass. Last week he was so quiet he didn't get a grade. He didn't get to play enough, though, and he was pretty quiet when he did play besides those two plays. I do remember his run supporting ability getting exposed in the wildcat formation, too.

Anthony Hargrove: B (3.0)
Hargrove, like McCray, didn't get a grade last week because of limited playing time. This week he played more, frequently replacing Ayodele at DT. He finished with 3 tackles and was in Kolb's face a couple of times. I thought he had a good motor and was aggressive. I still haven't seen in Hargrove what we all saw in preseason, and what people saw in training camp, but it was an encouraging performance.

Scott Shanle: B (3.34)
Shanle got a terrific tide changing interception, his second in 2 weeks. He also led the team with 11 tackles and was frequently around the ball. The reason I give him a B, though, and not higher, is because he was repeatedly beat by Brent Celek of the Eagles on passing plays. While he had sure tackles for the most part that stopped Celek from gaining big chunks of yards after the catch, he was often yielding that 7-9 yard pass underneath before getting there. Granted that was a tough player to cover, but it also explains in part why Shanle's tackle total was so high. I still thought he played reasonably well, especially given a crucial INT at an important time, but his tackle total doesn't tell the whole story.

Scott Fujita: C- (2.5)
Fujita was very very quiet. Too quiet. He finished with 1 tackle and wasn't a factor, but he also didn't miss any assignments or have any serious errors.

Jonathan Vilma: B (3.17)
Vilma was active and sure in tackling. I wouldn't say he was dominant, but he played pretty well. He finished with 7 tackles, and defended the wildcat well.

Jabari Greer: B+ (3.33)
7 tackles, and he looked solid making them. Great in run support, and great in pass coverage. I really think the Saints have picked up a good one.

Tracy Porter: B (3.0)
Porter isn't as sure of a tackler as Greer but he's very solid in pass coverage too. He followed up his 7 tackle performance last week with just 1 this week, but he did notch an interception on the games' final play. Those two make a pretty good tandem at corner.

Roman Harper: B- (2.84)
Harper was active around the box and finished with 7 tackles. He also came on a blitz and notched his first sack of the season. I think he's a fine tackler and great in run support. I still think his pass defense is a glaring weakness. Some said Gregg Williams' defense would improve him drastically - but for me it's more of the same from Harper. That's not necessarily a bad thing, Harper is a good strong safety... but his ability to play over the top is suspect. He bit badly on the long touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson.

Darren Sharper: B+ (3.5)
Sharper showed that he's lost a step trying to play catch up to DeSean Jackson on the previously mentioned touchdown. Granted, Jackson is about as fast as they get and I'm not sure Sharper in his prime catches him, but none the less he looked slow. For the majority of the game, Sharper looked pedestrial missing a tackle or two and posting 3 tackles. Then, out of nowhere, he picks off a pass and runs it back 97 yards for a touchdown, breaking 2 tackles in the process. One thing is undeniable: this guy is a playmaker. Without a doubt the best pickup the Saints made all offseason. Already 3 INT's in 2 games, this guy is a constant threat to opposing QB's. It's nice to have a guy back there that's not "great potential" and no instincts (see Josh Bullocks, Tebucky Jones etc etc), and have a guy that's all instincts. And you know what? I could have tolerated the mistakes Bullocks et al made if they made half the plays Sharper made. But Sharper doesn't make mistakes, and his playmaking output it two games is equivalent to what you'd see in a season from his predecessors at the Saints' free safety position. I will tell all of you right now that I am more than comfortable with his limitations.


John Carney: B (2.67)
Carney was perfect on 6 extra points and 2 for 2 on two very short field goals. Maybe my grade is a little harsh based on the fact that he did nothing but split the uprights, but he almost missed the second field goal by hooking it just inside the upright. Also, as accurate as he can be, his inability to handle kickoffs is a deficiency in his ability at this point. He wasn't really pushed based on the 8 kicks being inside 30 yard attempts, and honestly I'd expect any kicker to make all of those kicks.

Thomas Morstead: B+ (3.33)
Another solid performance by Morstead. He got a touchback on a kickoff, got good depth, and he punted terrificly. He averaged 50.3 yards on 3 punts, include a 60 yarder and 1 inside the 20. He didn't outpunt his coverage this time and did a good job overall. He did have one kickoff go out of bounds and set up the Eagles at the 40, so that's the reason his grade isn't higher.

Courtney Roby: C+ (2.33)
Saw him notch a tackle as a gunner, so that's a welcome addition. He averaged 24 yards on 3 kickoff returns, nothing special.

Malcolm Jenkins: A- (3.67)
I'm going to give Jenkins his first grade of the season. Seems unfair that he gets such a high grade playing so little perhaps, but his forced fumble to start the second half was that huge. Even then, I probably would've refrained from grading him until he lit up DeSean Jackson on a monstrous Morstead punt for a very short return. Jenkins gets an A- based on the limited action he had in the game, but his special team performance was A+ material. Great to see the Saints 1st rounder making the most of limited chances. Don't forget he also saved a touchdown last week catching a kick returner from behind.