Weekly Check-in on Saints Secondary Play-Week 9
The season has been a bit of a struggle for the New Orleans Saints secondary as they've continuously allowed big plays, there's been busted coverage, and too many penalties to count.
However, on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Bucs, Tom Brady, and company they absolutely shut them down. There were no big plays, very few penalties, and just an overall complete game, it was the game we frankly had been waiting for from them.
From a purely statistical standpoint, the defense allowed 209 passing yards from Tom Brady, no touchdowns, and three picks including one from Marcus Williams and another from Malcolm Jenkins. In addition, the secondary had five passes defended.
The five main secondary players we're going to focus on are Marshon Lattimore, Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Williams, Janoris Jenkins, and Chauncy Gardner-Johnson.
Another meeting between Lattimore and Mike Evans with Marshon coming out on top. Evans did have four catches for 64 yards but none of those were when Lattimore has in coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, this was the best day of the season for the young cornerback who came out of it with a season-best 76 overall defensive grade and coverage grade of 77. Absolutely stellar for Marshon Lattimore on Sunday night against the Bucs.
Jenkins has been the most consistent performer in the Saints secondary this season but against Tampa Bay, he was good but not great. JackRabbit, recorded two tackles and two passes defended in the game. His overall PFF grade for that game was a 65, his coverage grade was a little better than a 64, and his best grade was his tackling with a 75.
While the defense as a whole had a strong game against the Buccaneers one man who struggled according to PFF was the second-year defensive back in Chauncy Gardner-Johnson. This continues a trend of now three weeks in a row where CGJ has struggled with grades all dipping below 51. On Sunday, he recorded just two tackles, a 51 overall grade, and a 49 coverage grade. He's one guy that the Saints need a little bit more out of in the secondary.
While Gardner-Johnson is trending downward Marcus Williams is trending upward. During the game against the Bucs, he recorded a tackle and an interception on a miscommunication between Brady and Antonio Brown. He had his best game of the season according to PFF on Sunday with a season-best overall and coverage grades of 77 overall and 73 in coverage. This is the type of play New Orleans needs more consistently out of the fourth-year pro.
Finally, the vet Malcolm Jenkins continues his resurgence as he's beginning to look more comfortable within this Saints defense. He finished tied with the lead in tackles for the game with five and if you look at his PFF grades the numbers don't lie, this was one of his better days of the 2020 season. He finished with his third-best overall grade of the year at a 76 and his second-best coverage grade with a 72.
This is what we need to see more out of from the New Orleans secondary, we thought it was going to be a difficult match-up for them against Tampa Bay but the defense came ready to play, specifically the secondary. The way they showed out in week nine is what we all expected on a more consistent basis when we looked at this team on paper coming into 2020, hopefully, they can keep it up.