Note: The offensive portion of this review will be added later this afternoon.
DEFENSIVE LINE: 2 out of 4
The Saints need to figure out a way to generate more pressure, and quickly, if they hope to turn this season around. Up against a quarterback who had completed around 40 percent of his passes when facing pressure this season when entering action, New Orleans only impacted Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford on eight snaps. Cam Jordan generated three pressures, Kevin Williams had two and a quarterback hit, Hau’oli Kikaha had one pressure, and Dannell Ellerbe had a hit. New Orleans sent seven pass rushers on one play late in the second quarter and Bradford was still able to complete a pass to Jordan Matthews 2.5 seconds after it was snapped. That was one of the major issues in this game – and this season. Jordan has been able to create some pressure but too often he doesn’t have help. The secondary actually covered well in this game. The front seven has to start complementing them. Against the run, Jordan was the best of the bunch. One his best moments came on the fourth play of the game when he split two defenders and stuffed DeMarco Murray for a 1-yard gain. In all, he had three run stuffs. Defensive tackle John Jenkins had some moments but he wasn’t at the same level as last week. Rookie Tyler Davison had a nice run stuff on Murray in the fourth quarter. The Saints missed rookie defensive end Bobby Richardson, who started at 5-techinique end last week in place of the departed Akiem Hicks. Kaleb Eulls stood in for him and struggled against the run. The Eagles did a good job of running out of their 11 personnel, which often left New Orleans with six or seven men on the box. Philadelphia ran 21 times with three receivers on the field for 135 yards (6.4 yards per carry).
LINEBACKERS: 1.5 out of 4
After piecing together his best season of the performance last week against the Dallas Cowboys, Kikaha fell back to earth a little bit against the Eagles. He put his hand in the dirt this week and had some trouble making things happen against Philadelphia offensive tackle Jason Peters. Granted, Peters is a tough counterpart and many players struggle up against him, but it was a reminder that this is still a rookie player figuring things out. Kikaha was also appeared responsible for a 16-yard run by Ryan Mathews. He bit wrong on a fake up the middle, which left the edge open for the running back to get a big gain. Stephone Anthony also had a fair performance. He cleaned up and made a lot of tackles down the field, and also had a run stuff in the fourth quarter that helped force a field goal. But he still has some issues in coverage. He got lucky Bradford missed Bradford up the seam on the second half because he was beat on the play. Dannell Ellerbe also had a decent performance. He showed up a few times in run support and looked good blitzing when given the opportunity. On Brent Celek’s third-quarter touchdown, he doubled Riley Cooper with Brandon Browner after Browner followed him across the formation, leaving Celek open for a touchdown. It’s difficult to know who was responsible for the breakdown in coverage. It’s also looked like the linebacker’s bit too hard on a play-action fake in the second quarter when Josh Huff was able to score a touchdown after Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd collided.
SECONDARY: 3 out of 4
The secondary actually played well in this game. It wasn’t perfect, but they were solid, and Kenny Vaccaro lifted the overall grade here with a solid, high-energy performance. Vaccaro had several stuffs and standout moments throughout the game. His open-field tackle on Murray in the second quarter saved a big gain, and later had an impressive pass breakup on a ball to Darren Sproles where he came across the formation and stretched out to knock it away. One of his finer moments that flew under the radar is when he jammed Matthews out of a play and then shot over toward the sideline to tackle Nelson Agholor. It was the continuation of a really strong start from Vaccaro, who has benefitted from being freed up from a strictly defined role. In simple terms, he’s now often just being asked to make plays. He’s succeeding on a weekly basis. The rest of the secondary was mostly solid. Rookie Damian Swann played well until he was knocked out of action with a concussion and broke up a pass, and Delvin Breaux had another strong performance. He gave up a few receptions this game, but was never badly beat. His interception on a pass to Miles Austin was very impressive. He got inside his route and was able to stretch out and take it away. Breaux drew a pass interference on a pass to Agholor earlier in the drive that was somewhat confusing. It was hard to spot contact on the play. Keenan Lewis was targeted four times and only gave up one reception on a contested pass to Riley Cooper. He later defended a pass to Cooper deep down the field that ended a drive. Byrd also looked good, showing up to stuff a run and break up a pass. Browner might have had his best game in coverage this season. He gave up a few catches but was never egregiously beat. He also had an interception in the first half. The criticism of his performance was that he missed too many tackles, which was something that plagued many members of the defense, and had a penalty that negated a Jordan sack. On Huff’s touchdown, it looked like Vaccaro was going for the high receiver and Byrd was crashing down on Huff before the ball was thrown. The two men collided, leaving Huff open. While maybe the collision should have been avoided, the question is why Huff was so open in the first place. One thing the Eagles deserve credit for is creating traffic with many of their route combinations.