ATL-NO Grades: Don't write off Brees yet
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded performances from the New Orleans Saints 31-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
– If you want an example of the flawed nature of “quarterback wins” as a statistic, turn on the tape and watch how Matt Ryan (+2.0) played as Atlanta beat Washington, and then watch how much better he was as they lost to the Saints. There was no fourth quarter magic, and the lack of a deep passing attack is becoming a concern, but Ryan was money for most of the game. On his 42 aimed passes, he was on target on 35 of them.
– While Falcons fans wait to see Vic Beasley break (+0.7) out, it was actually O’Brien Schofield (+2.8) who delivered more pressure in this one. His one hit and four hurries led the team, with his ability to really drive inside on stunts a constant source of problems for the Saints.
– Defeats are always hard to take, but Atlanta will probably take this one a little harder knowing that a series of fumbles and a blocked punt gave them too much work to do. You decide what was a bigger moment, as the team fumbled twice in the red zone with rookie Tevin Coleman (-1.7) and backup center James Stone (+2.1) responsible. Stone will be frustrated because he really showed up in the run game (+3.6), and was making a case that he could be more than a fill-in for Mike Person. But a fumble that takes away points? That makes it a hard sell now.
DE O’Brien Schofield (+2.8)
C James Stone (+2.1)
QB Matt Ryan (+2.0)
TE Levine Toilolo (+1.9)
LT Jake Matthews (+1.9)
– It hasn’t been a good season so far for Drew Brees (+4.1), and you had to go all the way back to the first game of the 2013 season to when he graded above +1.0 against the Falcons. But just when you’re ready to write him off, he turns in a nearly flawless effort. Coping with the Falcons pass rush seamlessly (he was pressured on 13 dropbacks, but turned that into a 133.3 QB rating) he moved the chains over and over again.
– If Brees was the star of the offense, then Cameron Jordan (+4.1) was the star on defense. Slightly fortunate to get away with a horse collar late in the third quarter, there was no luck to his 11-quarterback disruption day (though it should be noted four of those came unblocked). His ability to push on tackles and blow past guards make him one of the most dangerous defensive players in the league.
– How about Delvin Breaux (+2.7)? After earning two negative grades in his first two games, he’s now put up four grades of at least +1.3, and is showing the kind of tight coverage skills that can allow the Saints’ to ignore the struggles of Brandon Browner (0.0). Breaux was thrown at six times, allowing just two completions while breaking up two more.
DE Cameron Jordan +4.1
QB Drew Brees +4.1
TE Ben Watson +2.9
CB Delvin Breaux +2.7
RT Zach Strief +2.1