Re-Focused: Week 9, Saints at Panthers
Re-Focused: Week 9, Saints at Panthers
That is how a champion disposes of inferior opposition.
The Saints made it look easy in this match against the Panthers and in all honesty they were in cruise control fpr most of the game.
While the score line wasn’t put out of reach until fairly late on, there was always the sense even when the Panthers took a 3-0 lead that Carolina were never going to win this game.
Saints: Three performances of note
The New Orleans’ offensive line has struggled to match its form from last season, until this week as a host of Saints’ linemen got back on song. Carl Nicks (+3.5) has been the sole lineman to match his 2009 form to date but this week the likes of Jon Stinchcomb (+3.0) and Jonathan Goodwin (+1.7) really joined the party with strong all round games. The continuing concern however has to be the play of Jahri Evans, who continues to struggle particularly in run blocking where he was so dominant in 2009. The sight of Evans being stood up and taken back by Charles Johnson in the run game (not a bad player, but not what you expect to see) is symptomatic of the drop off we’ve seen from Evans this season.
Roman Harper (+3.4) had a busy day and a strong all round game for the Saints, he blitzed the quarterback 12 times (registering a sack and a batted pass) and all of his tackles (9 including his sack) were defensive stops. In coverage Harper was targeted 6 times, yielding 3 catches for 10 yards and defending a pass. Harper’s pass coverage has been an impressive improvement on his 2009 form, yet to have a game graded below -0.2 in coverage this year, and combined with his active play close to the line of scrimmage he is having a fine season.
Scott Shanle (-1.2) was poor prior to injury and whilst this game was an improvement on last weekend against the Steelers (-3.7) it is still another poor showing, baffling that the Saints continue to play Shanle over the linebackers who outperformed him in his absence. Shanle missed two tackles on Sunday against the Panthers and generally struggled to get off blocks. Shanle doesn’t appear to offer anything in any facet of the game (negatively graded for the season run defense, pass coverage and as a pass rusher) and younger players like JoLonn Dunbar would surely offer more to the Saints’ aggressive defense.
Panthers: Three performances of note
After initially struggling with his move inside to guard immediately after the Panthers bye week, Geoff Schwartz has improved week by week after playing extremely well at right tackle prior to the bye week. His +2.3 grade for this game was his second best game of the season after a +4.2 grade (also against the Saints) at right tackle in week 4. Schwartz yielded 2 pressures in pass protection but backed up his strong showing in the run game against the Rams (+1.1) with another strong showing this Sunday (+1.2).
Derek Landri (-4.4) was on the wrong end of a resurgence from the Saints’ offensive line this Sunday. Landri offered nothing in the passing game (no pressure on 24 pass rushes) and was dominated in the running game (-3.3) by the likes of Jon Stinchcomb, Jonathan Goodwin & Carl Nicks. Landri started the season strongly as a run defender (+9.2 up to the Panthers’ bye week) but in the last 3 weeks has played very poorly, grading negatively against the 49ers (-2.7), the Rams (-0.2) and bottoming out against the Saints this weekend. Landri was a pleasant surprise emerging from the Panthers’ DT rotation but as Carolina’s season continues to unravel Landri’s performances are slipping off with it.
Richard Marshall (-2.8) was the beneficiary of a dropped pass popping into his hands to set up an early 3-0 lead for the Panthers but there after his Sunday fell apart as he gave up yardage to receivers and penalty flags. Marques Colston was the man to have most success against Marshall, picking up all 5 targets thrown his way for 38 yards but Jimmy Graham, Robert Meachem & Lance Moore also had success picking up 3 catches on 6 targets for 34 yards and a touchdown. Combine those 74 total yards with penalties for illegal contact and defensive pass interference (setting up the Saints with a 1st & goal) and you’ve got a bad day at the office for Marshall.
Chris Ivory (+1.7) left the game injured but up to that looked a threat with the ball in his hand again, forcing 5 missed tackles on 12 carries… Jimmy Graham (+0.1) picked up his first career TD (that stood, having had one nullified against Tampa Bay) but also dropped a pass, Graham is still relatively new to the sport (only played 1 year of college football) and is showing real promise as a receiver… Matt Tennant (+0.1) saw his first snaps of the season at center in garbage time.
Jimmy Clausen (-0.9) came in for an injured Matt Moore and then made way for Tony Pike, another poor showing before he got yanked … Pike (-0.5) didn’t cover himself in glory… David Gettis (-1.1) appears to have some ability as a receiver but he is hamstrung by a dreadful quarterback situation in Carolina… Greg Hardy (+0.7) saw only 6 snaps this week, his lowest snap count of the season, continuing the downward trend of playing time from early season. … Jordan Pugh (+1.1, ST) was active on special teams, making a tackle for no gain in punt coverage and looking dangerous as a kick returner in place of Mike Goodson.
Jabari Greer gave up less than a yard for each time he was targeted in this game. Greer yielded only 1 catch on 4 targets for 3 yards, of those incompletions he also knocked a pass down and intercepted one. New Orleans will be absolutely delighted to have him back on the field after all their injuries at corner this year.
Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.