Once again the Saints' defense got gashed for 404 yards, but this one felt a lot different, wouldn't you say? This defense still has major problems. Most significantly glaring in this one was extremely poor tackling, which led to so many of the big plays the Raiders had. So many of those 20+ yard gains could have been cut in half with proper tackling. But, enough griping. This defense held the Raiders to 17 points and got two takeaways, including one in the red zone. Make the jump for the grades!
Saints vs Raiders boxscore
Will Smith: B+ (2.43) He was active, doing a nice job of getting some pressure on Carson Palmer. He finished with 5 tackles, including one that was almost 30 yards downfield. Kudos for the hustle there. He also had a nice sack before halftime. I have to say he's been playing better as of late.
Cameron Jordan: C (2.44) He wasn't as good sealing the interior as he was pursuing the edge in this game. I almost wonder if his primary assignment in this game was containment. His pass rushing was inadequate for most of the game, and he as up and down stopping the run. He had 3 tackles.
Turk McBride: C+ (1.83) He had two tackles and a quiet workmanlike performance. He generated a little pressure but didn't show anything special.
Martez Wilson: B- (2.43) He lined up all over the place and more times than not, surprisingly, he was dropped in coverage where he actually did a decent job. He was good on special teams, too. He did get flagged for an offsides penalty, which is standard practice for him. He finished with 3 tackles and a defended pass.
Broderick Bunkley: C- (2.30) He was credited with just 1 tackle and didn't really bring much in this game. Too often the Raiders gashed the Saints for nice rushing yardage and Bunkley didn't assert himself in the trenches enough.
Sedrick Ellis: D+ (1.93) He was virtually invisible and had no tackles. He generated minimal pressure, although he did seem to get blatantly held a couple times with no flags. His miserable season continues.
Tom Johnson: B (2.18) He demolished his man getting nice pressure and a beautiful sack of Palmer. He finished with 2 tackles.
Akiem Hicks: B+ (2.44) He once again showed off his combination of power and athleticism in goal line sets. His blocking on special teams, particularly on Cadet's return, was also good. He had 2 tackles, including one for a loss. The Saints aren't playing him a ton yet but at some point they just need to start him and let him dominate. Every time he's in there he makes an impact.
David Hawthorne: C (1.93) He finished with 2 tackles and was physical at times. The Raiders tried to run an end around with Denarius Moore and while Hawthorne didn't make the tackle he completely blew that play up to cause it to go for a loss. Overall he didn't offer much in run defense, though.
Curtis Lofton: C (2.73) It's weird but as the Saints' defense has gotten better, I feel like Lofton hasn't been playing as well personally. He had just 3 tackles and didn't offer much in coverage. He did have a couple nice tackles but was running after the play too much. He also missed a couple tackles which was out of character.
Jonathan Vilma: C (2.07) His coverage was painful against Marcel Reese, who's not exactly a burner. He missed numerous tackles as well, a couple which results in big gains. Against the run he was whiffing more often that making plays. He finished with 4 tackles, and he did at least contribute a big sack.
Jonathan Casillas: C- (2.14) He had 2 tackles and was mostly used in coverage situations and he was beaten down the seam late.
Jabari Greer: B (2.34) A solid day in coverage for the Saints' veteran, who also got involved in run support. He finished with 5 tackles. He was credited with a "pass breakup", I guess, after a review somehow determined a ball was never fully secured. That should have been a forced fumble, though, as Greer made an absolutely fantastic play on the ball.
Patrick Robinson: C (1.77) He had an up and down game. He had a nice breakup on a deep pass to Heyward-Bey early which was almost an interception, and he contested a jump ball in the end zone very well to break that up. He also lost Palmer and tight end Brandon Myers to allow a touchdown on a play the Saints had stopped dead in it's tracks, and he was flagged for interference in the end zone.
Elbert Mack: B+ (3.33) He did a good job on special teams, and he was excellent in coverage. Throughout the game he covered well in nickel, tackled well, and contested a few throws. Late in the game he jumped a Carson Palmer pass almost coming up with a sick interception. On the same play he was hit in the head and had to come out. Hopefully he's ok. He had 4 tackles and 3 pass breakups.
Johnny Patrick: D+ (1.80) Came in for Mack and immediately proceeded to get torched at will by Palmer. He also had a makeable play on a fade route into the end zone but was completely lost and turned around to give up the touchdown. He did have a nice pass breakup, but even that was negated by his old defensive holding penalty. he had 2 tackles.
Malcolm Jenkins: A- (2.37) He had 6 tackles, and a big time pick six that he took to the house by breaking a couple tackles, showing nice speed and strength. My only gripe is that he missed some tackles he should have had, but that play was too massive to criticize much, especially when this defense has been so starved for something like that.
Roman Harper: A- (2.40) He led the team with 11 tackles and was all over the field. He did get beat in coverage a couple times and he blew some tackles that led to very big gains, but the plays he made more than made up for it. He also recovered the fumble that Greer caused and had a huge return on the play, but of course that was negated by horrific officiating. He came up with a huge interception off a dropped pass by Myers in the end zone to help the defense once again turn a red zone trip into 0 points. He also blew up a couple runs in the backfield by being more aggressive. I can live with his shortcomings when he plays like this because the positives by far outweighed anything else.
Isa Abdul-Quddus: C+ (2.24) He had 4 tackles as a center field safety, but didn't show much and missed a tackle.
Garrett Hartley: B+ (2.77) He made all five extra points, as well as a 47 yard field goal. The field goal was a knuckle ball that just barely went in, but overall it will hopefully help his confidence.
Thomas Morstead: B+ (3.30) He got decent depth on his kickoffs, though not as good as usual. The Raiders never returned any of his four punts which went for 43 yards per including one getting downed inside the 5. The only negative was one punt going short out of bounds off the side of his foot.
Courtney Roby: B- (3.10) He had 3 tackles and downed a punt inside the 5, so those four things are all fantastic, but he also got flagged 15 yards for interference with catching a punt... not the smartest thing he's ever done. Still it was great to have him back on special teams doing his thing.
Rafael Bush: B- (2.74) had a tackle and did a good job getting downfield and being disruptive.
Ramon Humber: C+ (3.11) Whiffed on a tackle that opened a big lane which could have ended badly. Also had a tackle.
note: Travaris Cadet was graded with the offense.
My Defensive Player of the Game: Roman Harper
My Special Teams Player of the Game: Thomas Morstead