Grades for Patriots-Saints
Here are the top takeaways from Saturday night’s Saints-Patriots game; including the highest graded players for each team:
–Rookie OLB Hau’oli Kikaha got the start for the Saints and did not disappoint. He hit the quarterback once and recorded an additional pressure on his way of picking up a game-high +2.1 pass-rush grade. In addition, he also racked up three stops to prove his value against the run as well.
–While Kikaha excelled, fellow rookie OT Andrus Peat showed that he is still a work in progress. In pass protection he allowed one quarterback hit and one pressure, while in the run game he finished tied for the lowest run-blocking grade on the Saints.
–After the game Bill Belichick expressed his satisfaction with the fact that the Patriots don’t have to face Brandin Cooks twice a year, and this is absolutely understandable looking at Cooks’ performance Saturday night. The second-year wide receiver recorded a reception against three different Patriots defenders and averaged 29.3 yards per catch. Saints QBs had a perfect passer rating when throwing to him.
Top 5 graded players:
Cameron Jordan +4.1
Drew Brees +3.1
Hau’oli Kikaha +3.0
Brandin Cooks +2.7
Terron Armstead +1.9
–QB Jimmy Garoppolo bounced back in spectacular style after his below-par performance against the Packers last week, and was able to take what the defense gave him all night long. Although he was criticized last week for his performance under pressure, Saturday he was just as efficient in these situations as when he had a clean pocket. He recorded a QB rating of 98.8 when he was pressured and 98.4 when he was not under pressure.
–Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler seems to be a lock for the left cornerback position, but there is still uncertainty in New England about who is going to play opposite Butler. Bradley Fletcher appeared to make a strong case for himself, as he allowed only two receptions and eight yards on the five occasions he was targeted. In addition, he also had two passes defensed, one of them coming in the end zone.
–Free-agent signing Jabaal Sheard is expected to be in the mix for playing time at the defensive end position behind Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. Sheard played the third-most snaps on New England’s defense and showcased his versatility. While recording a quarterback hit and an additional pressure, he also made two stops in the run game.
Top 5 graded players:
Jimmy Garoppolo +3.5
Chris Martin +2.7
Bradley Fletcher +2.6
Josh Kline +2.2
Jabaal Sheard +1.6