NO-ARI grades: Carson Palmer looks like old self
Here are the top takeaways from Sunday’s Saints-Cardinals game, including the highest-graded players for each team:
New Orleans Saints
– The right side of the Saints’ offensive line, G Jahri Evans (-0.5) and T Zach Strief (+3.8), posted a clean sheet in pass protection, charged with no pressures allowed.
– CB Damian Swann (-1.2) gave up catches on seven of the nine balls into his coverage for 100 yards and a touchdown. Three of those and 65 yards of the total went to Cardinals’ TE Darren Fells (-0.8).
– 26 of QB Drew Brees’ (+1.1) completions were aimed shorter than 10 yards downfield, including 12 behind the line of scrimmage. The Saints’ passing game largely stayed underneath Arizona’s coverage and collected 78 percent of their passing yards after the catch.
OT Zach Strief (+3.8)
G Tim Lelito (2.5)
DE Cameron Jordan (+2.4)
S Kenny Vaccaro (+1.8)
HB Mark Ingram (+1.6)
– Going just one-of-six on deep balls, QB Carson Palmer (+3.5) did the majority of his damage in the intermediate range (10-19 yards downfield), where he connected on six of seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
– S Tyrann Mathieu (+2.7) was used all over the defense (11 snaps as a box defender, eight as a wide corner, 39 over a slot receiver, and 15 aligned deeper) and produced a varied impact (batting two passes when blitzing, securing seven tackles, and logging four defensive stops).
– With OT Bobby Massie suspended and rookie OT D.J. Humphries not ready to take the spot, the Cardinals got a mixed bag from current starter OT Earl Watford (+1.8). Charged with a hit and three hurries (and a -1.2 grade) as a pass blocker, Watford did good work in the run game (+2.8), particularly when pulling or getting to the second level.
QB Carson Palmer (+3.5)
S Tyrann Mathieu (+2.7)
G Ted Larsen (+2.0)
T Earl Watford (+1.8)
LB Kevin Minter (+1.7)