JAX-NO Grades: Delvin Breaux continues to be bright spot for Saints
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Saints’ 38-27 win over the Jaguars in New Orleans.
– For the most part, Blake Bortles (+1.5) moved the ball well as most quarterbacks have done against the Saints’ defense, racking up 368 passing yards while facing less pressure than his Saints counterpart (23.7 percent of dropbacks). But two interceptions in addition to several untimely penalties and fumble issues were enough to ensure the Jaguars couldn’t keep up with the Saints’ offense. Bortles probably threw at CB Delvin Breaux a few too many times, and ended with just one completed pass outside the numbers on the right side of the field where Breaux was camped out.
– DE Andre Branch (+2.4) has struggled for much of the season, but over the past three games, he’s been one of the league’s better edge defenders, grading at +7.1 overall over that span. On Sunday, he collected a hit and two hurries (one nullified by penalty) rushing, but most of his positive work was done in run defense, where he had three defensive stops, all of them against Saints’ tight ends Josh Hill (-0.1) and Michael Hoomanawanui (-1.2).
– Rough day for linebacker Paul Posluszny (-0.9), who made several good plays in coverage, including at 8:51 of the third quarter defensing a pass intended for Ben Watson, but that was outweighed by his negatives in run defense. He missed a tackle but more often wasn’t in position to make a play on the rusher, getting sealed by multiple Saints’ blockers at the second level over the course of the game. This was a strength of his early in the season, but he’s struggled lately; over the last three games, Posluszny has graded below -9.0 against the run.
LT Luke Joeckel (+2.5)
DE Andre Branch (+2.4)
WR Allen Hurns (+1.9)
QB Blake Bortles (+1.5)
CB Aaron Colvin (+1.4)
New Orleans Saints
– Cornerback Delvin Breaux (+4.9) has been one of the few bright spots on the Saints’ defense, yet he saw a team-high eight targets against the Jaguars. Those throws resulted in just two catches for 4 yards, one of which required a pick at the goal line to get his receiver open. He was involved in both of Bortles’ interceptions, first defensing the pass at 13:34 of the second quarter that ended up in the hands of DE Bobby Richardson (+0.3), and later in the quarter (second quarter, 7:01) running the comeback better than Allen Hurns to secure Breaux’s third pick of the year.
– Even without Mark Ingram, the Saints looked as good on the ground as they have at any point this season, with a 122-yard day from Tim Hightower (+2.3). He looked adept at finding lanes on the Saints’ zone runs, while forcing four missed tackles and otherwise taking advantage of solid blocking, particularly at the left side A- and B-gaps, where he gained more than 9.3 yards per carry. Much of that was due to the play of left guard Tim Lelito (+3.2), who struggled somewhat in pass protection, but constantly made positive blocks in the run game. Take a look at his plays at 5:35 of the second quarter and 8:27 of the fourth.
– Another solid outing for Drew Brees (+2.7), despite dealing with a foot injury. It helped that he didn’t have to move in the pocket much, facing pressure on less than 30 percent of his dropbacks (11-of-37). The injury didn’t appear to hinder him going downfield outside of a couple of plays; Brees connected on 9-of-13 attempts over 10 yards, including a dime to Brandin Cooks at 0:37 of the first quarter.
CB Delvin Breaux (+4.9)
LG Tim Lelito (+3.2)
QB Drew Brees (+2.7)
RB Tim Hightower (+2.3)
S Kenny Vaccaro (+2.3)