Cardinals vs. Saints: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New Orleans

Murf Baldwin@@MurfBaldwinContributor ISeptember 23, 2013

Cardinals vs. Saints: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New Orleans

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    The New Orleans Saints stand atop the NFC South's division standings—after a 31-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. With a 3-0 start, the Saints are one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

    The Saints continue to prove they can win in a myriad of ways. Both units played equally as well, while continuously making splash plays throughout the contest. The offense was expected to be proficient, but not many predicted the defense would be their equal.

    The Saints have a ton of positives to hang their collective hats on. Conversely, there are areas where they should hang their heads as well.

    Let's see who stood out in victory. Here are the complete roster grades from Week 3.


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    Drew Brees

    Drew Brees made up for his lackluster performance against Tampa Bay, with a nearly blockbuster performance against the Cardinals. 

    Under pressure for most of the afternoon, Brees went 29-of-46 for 342 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.

    When you factor in his six carries for 21 yards and one touchdown, Brees pretty much did it all.

    An errant throw—that resulted in a turnover—kept me from giving him the highest grade possible.

    Overall Grade: A

Running Backs

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    Mark Ingram: DNP

    Time to move on...


    Pierre Thomas: B-

    The holes were pretty much nonexistent for the Saints backs early in the game. But when you're a complete football player like Thomas, you find other ways to contribute—until you find your groove. His six catches for 39 yards were a necessity. His 11 carries for 28 yards were a problem.


    Darren Sproles: A

    Darren Sproles needed more touches. His four catches for 39 yards were extremely timely. Though he only had three carries for 17 yards, the threat he provides in multiple areas keeps defenses in its heels. Sproles just does his job. What a solid player. 

    Khiry Robinson: A+

    Robinson finally got in the game with little time remaining. The Saints require backs to be efficient with minimal opportunities. Robinson was that—and then some! His four carries for 38 yards led the team in rushing, while providing a bit of nostalgia for fans of former Saints back Chris Ivory (now of the New York Jets).

    His hard-nosed running will pay dividends once he finally gets a chance to play a key role. That time should be now!


    Overall Grade: A


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    Marques Colston: A

    Colston continues to be solid. Five catches for 71 yards is just another day for Colston. As one of the most underrated players in the NFL, Colston continues to produce in a quiet manner. The Saints are lucky to have found him.


    Lance Moore: D-

    He played? Even before he left due to injury, Moore didn't seem to have the same impact as we're used to seeing in the past. He's been nonexistent, thus far, on the season.


    Kenny Stills: F

    It's worth noting that the quality of talent you see in the preseason is remarkably different from what you see in the regular season. Fans thought Stills would be Brees' go-to guy after a solid effort in the preseason, combined with a good game to start the season. He is not that, yet. Stills failed to chart in this contest.

    Robert Meachem: B-

    Meachem made his presence felt right away with a 27-yard touchdown on the first drive. He finished with 34 yards on two catches. It's great to see Meachem back in the field-stretcher role.


    Overall Grade: C

Tight End

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    Jimmy Graham: A+

    Graham is just scratching the surface of how great he's going to be. His nine catch, 134-yard performance will soon become standard operation for this athletic monstrosity. Please tell me who can match up with this guy in a one-on-one setting?


    Ben Watson: C

    Watson had one catch for 14 yards, which is nothing to phone home about. He showed up in a negative way in a pass-protection situation—that resulted in Brees getting sacked. But Watson does selfless things that won't show up on a stats sheet. He's a great complement to Graham.


    Overall Grade: B

Offensive Line

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    Pass Protection: D

    This sounds like a repeat of last game. Brees was sacked four times against Arizona. He was generally pressured throughout the contest. Interior pressure is the type that Brees has the most trouble with (due to his lack of height).

    The Saints need to fix the issues they are having at both guard spots. Jahri Evans didn't play this in this game, but he probably wouldn't have fared any better than backup Tim Lelito.


    Run Blocking: D

    The line only blocked for 18 designed runs. I imagine it's hard to establish a rhythm with so few chances. There were very few holes for most of the game. When Khiry Robinson came in and provided a spark, the holes looked a lot bigger.


    Overall: D

Defensive Line

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    Cameron Jordan: A+

    Cam Jordan is taking his place among the best linemen in the league. His size, quickness and tenacity are matched only by Houston Texans' end J.J. Watt. With two sacks in the Arizona game, the rest of the NFL will take notice of that as well.


    Akiem Hicks: C

    Hicks didn't make the type of impact he made in the Atlanta game. When the rotation is stacked with talent, in some games, it may be hard to contribute.

    Glenn Foster: A 

    I have been waiting for preseason star Glenn Foster to debut after his injury. He picked up where he left off. He's physical at the point of attack and a general disruption to an offensive backfield. He notched his first sack in his first game. The Saints have found another gem from the University of Illinois.

    John Jenkins: B

    John Jenkins is the anchor in the middle of that stout defensive line. He does the dirty work, and he does it well. 


    Overall Grade: B+

Outside Linebackers

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    Junior Galette: A

    Galette reminds me a young Dwight Freeney. He has some serious pass-rush moves that are mostly finesse based. His spin move is breath taking. He provided one sack in this game, and will do so on a regular.

    Parys Haralson: C

    The Saints play a lot more 4-3 than advertised. In an even-front alignment, Haralson becomes the odd-man out. Haralson is not much a pass-rusher, but he is good at setting the edge in the run game.

    Martez Wilson: C

    Wilson was in on a QB hurry but not much outside of that. You have to think his elbow injury is a major factor in his below-average impact.

    Jay Richardson: Incomplete

    Jay didn't chart. I can't even remember him playing much. He's a very similar player to Haralson in talent and role.


    Overall Grade: C+

Inside Linebackers

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    Curtis Lofton: A

    Curtis Lofton is as physical as it gets. When the Saints go to an even-front alignment, it allows Lofton to roam free and make plays on the ball. His eight tackles were routine; his pass deflection was uncharacteristic. He may still be the backbone of the front seven.


    David Hawthorne: B+ 

    David Hawthorne was in on a few tackles, but nothing earth-shattering. He has to take on blocks when the Saints go to their even-front alignment, which helps out Lofton. Hawthorne is a perfect complement due to his versatility.

    Will Herring: F

    I just mentioned him to hear people mention how he's a great special teams player. Although, every game, he doesn't really do anything. Ramon Humber seems to be the best special teams player at this point.


    Overall Grade: B


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    Keenan Lewis: A

    Lewis had a productive afternoon. He broke up a couple of passes and even came up with an interception. His technique needs improving, as he has trouble looking and leaning while running downfield with receivers. You can get away with suspect technique sometimes, but more than not you might draw a penalty. 

    Jabari Greer: B

    Jabari Greer continues to be solid. He won't lock anybody down, but he remains competitive with virtually everyone. I'd like to see him make more impact plays like the tackle he had behind the line of scrimmage.

    Corey White: C

    White wasn't victimized, but he didn't stand out either. He has all the talent in the world; it's just a matter of time before he puts it all together.


    Overall Grade: B-


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    Malcolm Jenkins: A+

    I really like how Malcolm Jenkins is playing thus far. Jenkins and fellow safety Kenny Vaccaro are like twins in their versatility. Jenkins is playing nickel corner and free safety at a very high level. He's now starting to live up to his billing he received coming out of college.

    Roman Harper: DNP

    Roman Harper has been playing well. Here's hoping he comes back soon. 

    Kenny Vaccaro: A+

    Vaccaro is the truth. He continues to make plays all over the field, while playing multiple positions. He notched the first interception of his brief career and went toe-to-toe with Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He will garner some attention next week on Monday Night Football.

    Rafael Bush: C

    Rafael Bush was in on a couple of tackles. He has to show up with a splash play here soon. Playing the deep safety is selfless job, as you are generally not around the action.


    Overall Grade: A-

Special Teams

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    Special Teams: C

    The kick-coverage unit gave up a big return to return man Javier Arenas. Getting out of your gaps in coverage is detrimental. The Saints can't afford to give up field position on their quest for greatness.

    Outside of that, the unit didn't have many opportunities to make an impact.

    Darren Sproles is due for a return here pretty soon.

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