SEA-NO grades: Drew Brees carves up Seattle pass defense in win

Brees, edge rusher Cameron Jordan grade very well in 25-20 win over Seattle, whose QB Russell Wilson struggles in loss.

| 8 months ago
(Jonathan Bachman, Getty Images)

(Jonathan Bachman, Getty Images)

SEA-NO grades: Drew Brees carves up Seattle pass defense in win

New Orleans Saints 25, Seattle Seahawks 20

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from New Orleans’ 25-20 Week 8 win over Seattle:

New Orleans Saints

Quarterback grade: Drew Brees, 79.4

Brees and Co. push through Seahawks’ stout defense

The exploits of the “undersized” future Hall-of-Fame QB Drew Brees have become an expectation, and this matchup against the Seattle secondary proved to be another notch in the belt of a great career. Brees was able to pepper the defense with 27 completions on 33 aimed passes, distributing the payload between his trio of talented receivers (Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Michael Thomas).

Top offensive grades:

LG Andrus Peat, 81.0

WR Willie Snead, 79.5

QB Drew Brees, 79.4

LT Terron Armstead, 78.9

WR Michael Thomas, 76.9

The Saints’ offense doesn’t miss a beat

With wins in three of their last four games, New Orleans could be on the verge of a playoff push. A big key to the victory proved to be the ability of Saints playmakers to work after the catch. Willie Snead led the way with 6.8 yards after the catch and rookie second-round pick Michael Thomas continued to display first-round talent by collecting all six of his targeted passes for a team-high 63 receiving yards. After RB Mark Ingram was benched following a fumble, RB Tim Hightower stepped in to collect 102 rushing yards and posted a 2.6 yard-after-contact per-carry average.

Top defensive grades:

DL Cameron Jordan, 83.8

LB Craig Robertson, 76.6

CB B.W. Webb, 73.9

SS Kenny Vaccaro, 73.6

FS Vonn Bell, 71.1

Surprising performance from Saints’ secondary

A top-five graded performer at 4-3 defensive end, Cameron Jordan continued his magnificent season with the game’s highest grade. He earned one hit on Russell Wilson as part of his six total pressures, a batted pass and a pair of run stops. The secondary played a huge role in stunting the Seahawks’ passing offense, led by the efforts of CB B.W. Webb, SS Kenny Vaccaro and FS Vonn Bell. Webb (0.30), Vaccaro (0.67) and Bell (0.78) each limited their total coverage responsibilities to average less than one yard per coverage snap.


Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback grade: Russell Wilson, 44.4

Mobility issues take toll on Wilson

Various injuries have taken a toll on the effectiveness of Russell Wilson this season, and a matchup with a bottom-five coverage defense did nothing to change that narrative. While Wilson was able to complete 17-of-23 aimed passes, 89 percent of his passing yardage was collected on throws less than 20 yards downfield. Wilson’s limited mobility was clearly in play, as his yards per attempt average (8.6 YPA on 20 attempts) dropped by 61 percent (3.4 YPA) when facing a blitz.


Top offensive grades:

C Justin Britt, 83.1

WR Doug Baldwin, 79.1

RB Christine Michael, 68.2

WR Jermaine Kearse, 68.0

TE Jimmy Graham, 66.7

Continued struggles for Seattle offense

Coach Pete Carroll called upon some trickery on a wideout pass from Tanner McEvoy that connected with C.J. Prosise on a wheel route for 43 yards. Seattle was able to hit paydirt one play later on the legs of RB Christine Michael, but over the course of the game the Seahawks were unable to adequately advance the ball on the ground – the longest run from scrimmage was 10 yards – as the Saints loaded the box to put the pressure on the quarterback. Doug Baldwin was able to break through late to collect the offense’s second-highest grade, but without the typical fear of a scrambling Russell Wilson, the New Orleans secondary played this game a step ahead of their opponents. 

Top defensive grades:

LB Bobby Wagner, 86.2

ED Cliff Avril, 82.6

LB K.J. Wright, 78.6

DI Sealver Siliga, 76.2

FS Earl Thomas, 64.5

Average showing for defense despite early success

Saints RB Mark Ingram meet Seattle DE Cliff Avril on the second play of the second drive, ending in a forced fumble and a 34-yard touchdown return. While LB Bobby Wagner and Avril provided consistent playmaking — Avril scored a sack, three pressures, a batted pass and three run stops, and Wagner chipped in 12 solo tackles, a pair of assists and seven run stops — the combination of pinpoint passing from Brees and a strong running game proved too much.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Saints D-lineman Cameron Jordan

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.


| Analyst

Wes is an analyst and fantasy correspondent at Pro Football Focus. He's been with the company since 2014, and his work has been featured on DraftKings Playbook and FantasyPros.

  • osoviejo

    So I take it that the PFF version of passer rating doesn’t account for gifted scores on illegal picks? Since you ding passers for throws that should have been picks but weren’t, don’t know why you wouldn’t do the same here.

  • Dave DeCaro

    No defense can stop an offense that is allowed to run the type of illegal pick plays that New Orleans routinely relies upon. The Saints ran at least 15 illegal pick routes and the refs penalized them not once while calling the Seahawks repeatedly for defensive holding.An evenly called game would have produced a different result.

    • Radio

      Whine some more, Seahawks gets a way with holding every season.

      • osoviejo

        “I may be a homer, but we’ve gotten every call today.”
        –The Saints radio broadcaster during the game’s final minute.

        Seahawks opponents have been called for the fewest number of penalties each of the past three years, while the Seahawks have been called for most or second-most in that span. They aren’t “getting away” with anything.

        • vaev

          Maybe not in quantity, but just ask Julio if they’ve gotten away with anything game-changing.

          • osoviejo

            Pffft. Ask Julio the same question about himself on that play.

          • Dale GoDawgs McLerran

            Try again. Julio might want offsetting penalties and a do-over, at best. Julio used a head slap to get off the LOS on that play. Where was the flag for that head slap?

            For that matter, Cassius Marsh had a bead on Ryan a couple of seconds before Ryan got off the throw. So, why didn’t Marsh get a sack – or at least a hurry – on Ryan? Because he was tackled by the Falcon’s LG. Where was the flag for that?

            But I can see why fans around the NFL have gone crazy over Sherman’s PI. Because every outlet in the country replays just the end of the play where the focus is only on Sherman’s PI. NFL films set up that PI nicely by showing Julio getting off of the LOS and then cutting to Julio trying to make the catch. The problem with the NFL films production? They had to cut in a clip of Julio getting of the LOS from a completely different play. They wanted no part in documenting that the Seahawks were NOT beneficiaries of the refs largess.

            The other problem with your myopic view of that last play is that Luke Willson was interfered with in the END ZONE earlier in the game. The Seahawks should have had 1st and goal out of that, but the refs didn’t throw that flag either. If the Seahawks had had 1st and goal, chances are the Seahawks would have been up more than a TD when Ryan threw that desperation pass to Julio. At least, that is as good as the chances of the Falcons moving further downfield to get into FG range because they weren’t yet in FG range where PI would have been called.

        • Aimee Olavarrieta

          The reason that was said was due to all of the calls going against us in all of the other games this year. We stopped The Raiders on 4th down and was called PI when the ball sailed about 10 feet over the receiver’s head. Saints loss!

        • Kid Monkey

          2016- Tied for 4th least # of defensive penalties
          2015- 2nd least # of defensive penalties
          2014- least # of defensive penalties in the league

          Anything else you feel the need to be wrong about?

          • osoviejo

            Any reason you feel the need to be obnoxious and make it personal?

            I have no idea where you got your information, but here is where I got mine: www . nflpenalties . com

          • Kid Monkey

            I got my stats from NFL . com

            Mine were limited strictly to defense, since that is the chief complaint- that Seattle gets away with more on defense than other teams.

          • osoviejo

            “I got my stats from NFL . com”

            Yeah, that’s a big swing-and-a-miss there, bucko. You have completely misinterpreted those numbers.

            That’s not the number of penalties incurred by the team listed–it’s the number of penalties incurred by the listed team’s -opponent-. Those are termed beneficiary penalties (and yards). Which, ironically, confirms my original comment.

            The site I provided makes this distinction clear, and should be less confusing for you. While nflpenalties . com has tracked penalties for years (and is the go-to site for most penalty researchers), you can also check in on teamrankings . com, which covers much more ground, but with less depth (so, basic penalty numbers without the extensive detail available on nflpenalties).

            Hopefully you learn something from this, in terms of your social media interaction. There’s never any benefit to being snotty. Just state your argument, and leave the personal attacks out of it. You’ll find it a far better experience all the way around.

          • Kid Monkey

            It’s pretty clear that I misunderstood the stats on the NFL official page. I’ve never seen the website you used, but I’m browsing it now and it’s quite fascinating. Thank you for both the clarification and for introducing me to the site you used. My apologies for directing unnecessary attitude your way.

    • Kimani Washington

      Saints have gotten bad calls against them and have had to eat it. Seattle has gotten away with stuff for a while and I guess the refs have started to notice. But there’s only one thing that matters at the end….it’s called scoreboard. That’s all that matter, and NOLA was on top at the end seaux ^_^

    • vaev

      Would it have produced more than 13 points for Seattle’s offense?

      • Dale GoDawgs McLerran

        You realize that the Saints were up just 5 points at the end of the game, don’t you? You realize that the Saints scored a TD on an illegal pick. How about if those 7 points are replaced by just 3 points. Then the Falcons are up just 1 at the end of the game. The Seahawks were at the Saints 10 yard line and had the clock stopped with 0:02 left in the game. Kick the FG and the Seahawks win the game.

        Of course, throw a flag for the pick on NO’s last possession of the game when they were gifted 20 yards on a 3rd and 5 from the Seahawks 45. Push them back to their own 45 with a 3rd and 15. What is the likelihood of NO getting into FG range facing 3rd and 15? They were only up 2 at that point in time. So the Seahawks would still have won the game with a FG.

        Want to try again, see if you can make a legitimate point?

        • A Man Has No Name

          Lol. The fact that you kids are so salty over this just warms my heart. Over the years how many times has intentional pass interference won you games and it was never called? You can go back and look at previous Saints/Seahawks games where PI should have been called on a Hawks DB during a crucial Saints drive and yet it wasn’t, time and time again.

          Now the shoe is on the other foot and you kids cannot get over the fact that it happened to you instead of you doing it to your opponent.

          I think I enjoy this more than the actual win.


          • Dale GoDawgs McLerran

            The notion that the Seahawks somehow have been beneficiaries of friendly refs is laughable. Since the start of the 2014 season, the Seahawks have a penalty yardage deficit averaging 20.5 yards per game. It seems that somehow, teams magically clean up their games when they play the Seahawks and just don’t commit penalties. Second in penalty yardage disparity are the Falcons who have a disparity of 11.8 yards/game with Oakland, Denver, and Buffalo all also having a penalty disparity of 11+ yards. The Seahawks have a penalty disparity that is 75% larger than the team with the second largest penalty disparity.

            The shoe is on the other foot??? You don’t have a clue what you a nattering about!

            Oh, BTW, you know that DPI on Sherman while defending Julio Jones? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The same play where Julio used a head slap to get off the line of scrimmage. Of course, that wasn’t Atlanta’s only uncalled penalty on that play. Cassius Marsh had a bead on Ryan a couple of seconds before Ryan got off his throw but got TACKLED by the Falcon’s LG. Oh, and there was a PI that should have been called against Atlanta on a throw into the end zone when the Seahawks were on offense. The Seahawks should have been up more than 2. But I’ll bet you still think that the Seahawks were beneficiaries of friendly refs.