- Sep 27, 2009
- Reaction score
Saints: Three performances of note
Drew Brees (+11.1) hasn’t reached the heady heights of 2009 this season … until this Thursday that is. Brees graded positively in every area of the field he targeted a pass, and even his one intercepted pass was a quality throw that Jimmy Graham failed to bring in, deflecting it to a defender. Brees didn’t have his usual high completion percentage but the display of passing he put on was extraordinary at times.
Carl Nicks (-3.1) has been the best lineman in the league this season but struggled badly as he turned in his worst performance of the season. His poor performance was based almost entirely around his pass protection, as he yielded two hits and four pressures but also struggled to dominate Igor Olshansky in the same way he has other defensive linemen this season. Whether he had too much turkey at the Saints’ team meal on Wednesday night or simply wasn’t ready off a short week, this isn’t the sort of performance we have come to expect from Nicks this season.
Another uncharacteristic performance this Thanksgiving came from Jonathan Vilma (+2.6); the difference being that this was a pleasant surprise for Saints fans. Vilma turned in an excellent performance in run defense (+3.0) as he registered 5 stops and was a factor around the line of scrimmage making tackles, shedding and standing up blocks in a manner we are unaccustomed to seeing from him. Saints fans will hope to see more of the same from Vilma as the season enters the stretch.
Cowboys: Three performances of note
Jason Witten (+3.7) dominated the Saints in this game; not one of the six defenders targeted on passes to Witten could prevent a completion as Witten collected all 10 of the passes sent his way. This was Witten’s highest graded and most productive game of the season, and his presence as the go-to guy in the Cowboys’ offense re-emerged after three weeks in the shadows. Witten was Tony Romo’s safety blanket the last two seasons and will be crucial down the stretch for Jon Kitna & Jason Garrett to put some wins together to take the Cowboys away from the basement of the NFL.
Losing seasons often sharpen the focus on aging veterans, and one of those players under the microscope in Dallas is Keith Brooking. He played as if to emphasise what he still has left to offer with an excellent game against the Saints on Thursday (+4.9). Brooking was a factor both in pass coverage (+2.6) and run defense (+2.6) registering his best games of the season in both facets of the game. He won’t keep it going forever but performances like this may see the Cowboys look to address quick fixes elsewhere on the roster in the off-season.
One area that might see some attention for a quick fix is the defensive backfield where nickel corner Orlando Scandrick (-2.6) rebounded from his best game of the season against the Lions with his worst game of the season and another poor showing after a solid first month of the season. Scandrick yielded 57 yards on 3 catches in his coverage and also missed a tackle on the day. Among nickel corners (with no starts in base defense) no-one has given up more yards or touchdowns than Scandrick.
Chris Ivory (+0.7) saw his snaps diminished with the return of Reggie Bush to the lineup but put the former Heisman Trophy winner into the shade, registering two touchdowns & 38 yards on 7 carries. … Jimmy Graham (-1.4) started for the second time in the last 3 games and registered his worst game of the season in the passing game, dropping 2 passes of the 6 passes thrown to him, one of which led to an interception. … Patrick Robinson (-1.5) returned to the field for the first time since the Saints’ Halloween win over the Steelers and yielded 1 catch of 24 yards in pass coverage.
Chris Gronkowski (0.0) was a bit of a non-factor in the running game, failing to get the better of the Saints’ linebackers as he might’ve expected to… Dez Bryant (-3.7) turned in the worst game of his pro career as he was held without a catch (including a drop) on 5 passes targeted to him. Jon Kitna played his part but Bryant was poor on his Thanksgiving debut… Josh Brent (-0.2) saw only 8 snaps, his fewest all season long… Sean Lee (+0.2) registered only 6 snaps, not being afforded the playing time to follow up his strong showing against Detroit (+2.7)… Big-play maven Bryan McCann (0.0) registered only 3 snaps in the game on defense.
JoLonn Dunbar came in for Scott Shanle for just nine plays but in that time managed to register as many defensive stops, three, as Shanle managed in 67. That included a stop on 3rd down & 4th down, Dunbar’s grade (+1.7) put Shanle’s (-1.1) to shame yet again, what more does Dunbar have to do to overtake Shanle on the depth chart?