Saints News

2013 Saints Season In Review, Part 2: Grades

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Oct 27, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis (28) tackles Buffalo Bills wide receiver T.J. Graham (11) during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans defeated Buffalo 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Grades

The defense had an incredible turnaround, which is likely the understatement of the year. I wrote a previous article that talked about the improvement on defense, and that I personally feel that a lot of the media ignores it. However, we know better.

Defensive Line – A- to A+ (60%)

After the 2012 debaucle, the switch to a base 3-4 scheme was going to be a challenge in itself. We always so that the front four pass rushers in 2012 were just a half second late, or just not getting the pressure. The defensive line had help from everyone at one point or another, and it’s mostly composed of newer talent. Akiem Hicks had a huge season, and with Brodrick Bunkley/John Jenkins plugging up the middle, it helped the Saints improve their run stopping. Let’s not forget that Cam Jordan fellow, who led the Saints in sacks, and earned a trip to Hawaii. All in all, exceptional improvement by the defensive line.

Editor’s Grade: A-

Linebackers – B- to B+ (64%)

Given the big injury to Victor Butler and the choice to release Martez Wilson, the linebackers did an exceptional job for 2013. The acquisition of Parys Harlason was one of the best risk/rewards of the season, as Haralson was an integral part of the Saints return to form. Curtis Lofton led the team in tackles for a second straight season, and David Hawthorne had an outstanding rebound season, which is overlooked too much in my opinion. Top that all off with Junior Galette’s sack-happy season, and that’s a recipe for success. Perhaps the missing element through it all was the depth, as we saw what happened once Haralson went down.

Editor’s Grade: A-

Secondary – B- to B+ (65%)

This may be the sour point of the defense, as it was in 2012. Before you overreact, what I mean by that statement is that the new guys – Kenny Vaccaro, Chris Carr, and Keenan Lewis – were arguably the biggest change/reason for the team’s turnaround. Patrick Robinson’s injury hurt, Jabari Greer’s was just awful to watch, and Corey White was picked on a good bit, yet again. Roman Harper had dealt with his respective injuries, and while the team did much better in the passing game, there were some huge exposures at the worst time. We can’t ignore the final minute wins in New England and Carolina either. Whether that’s play calling or the secondary, someone is to blame. However, there’s nothing the take away from the humongous improvement season over season.

Editor’s Grade: B

Overall Defense – A- to A+ (81%)

Any time your defense put up a dead last ranking, it can only go up from there. The Saints are no exception. Rob Ryan did incredible work, and got the most of the talent the defense had. Despite a wave of injuries, the team kept going in the right direction. They finished 2013 ranked 4th in Points Allowed and Yards. You can’t say enough good things about the defense, and there’s a small list of things you’d change over the course of the season. Overall, solid performance and incredible rebound.

Editor’s Grade: A