New Orleans Saints 2015 midseason defense report card

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Oct 4, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux (40) against the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Cowboys 26-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

SECONDARY

CB Keenan Lewis: C+
How does the New Orleans Saints’ best defensive back grade out to a C?  Well, through eight games, he’s not the best defensive back this year.  Health has caused Lewis to miss a lot of time, and the time that he is out on the field, he looks rusty.  But don’t worry — he’ll find his way back in the mix.  He’s only played 80 snaps all year, so don’t read too far into it.  Lewis has the entire second half to bring it up two whole letter grades, and once he’s fully recovered, he probably will.

CB Delvin Breaux: A-
After acing his tests all year long, Breaux finally slipped up and made a few mistakes against the Giants, but bouncing back after one bad outing shouldn’t be a problem.  Breaux has been the biggest story of the NFL this year, and one of the biggest offseason bargains.  Except for this past Sunday, the former CFL star and New Orleans native is playing at a Pro Bowl level.  He looks to be the real deal for a long time.  The force is strong with this one.

CB Damian Swann: B
Unfortunately, Swann has been bothered by a lingering concussion for the past few weeks and is back on protocol.  He returned Sunday, only to suffer another one.  He’ll likely be held out again this weekend.  But injuries aside, Swann has been a pleasant surprise after the Saints traded up into the fifth round to snag him in this year’s draft.  He stepped up huge in the absence of Keenan Lewis.  New Orleans found a steal here.  Hopefully he takes care of that head and continues his success in the second half.

CB Brandon Browner: F
Browner has been one of the worst NFL free agent signings this year.  He looks old, slow, and has been penalized (14 penalties) more than any other cornerback in the league.  Just when you think he’s improving, Browner goes and screws it up again.  It has been a rough first half for what was thought to be a big step forward for the Saints’ secondary.  If we don’t see any improvement in the second half, he may flunk out.

CB Kyle Wilson: B
Not only did Wilson prove his critics wrong by making the team after the Saints signed him to a little free agent deal before training camp, but he is playing exceptionally well in the slot.  He’s been filling in nicely for Damian Swann and with Lewis still recovering.  With experience under his belt, the Saints have been in good hands with the former first-round pick.

S Kenny Vaccaro: B+
Second on the team in both tackles and stops, excelling in pass coverage, and making his presence felt against the run, Vaccaro’s sophomore slump from a year ago is indeed in the past.  He’s played exceptionally well through eight games, but there’s always room for improvement.  His versatility on the field should help to continue his solid play in the second half of the season.  He’s continuing to grow and find his way in his third year with the Saints.

S Jairus Byrd: C+
For all the Byrd haters across the Who Dat Nation, just stop.  This man is doing all he can to recover from a brutal knee injury that ended his season early a year ago.  He’s progressing each game, and before you know it, he’ll be back to being great.  Give it some time — he’s shown massive improvement since returning.  Byrd has made some mistakes, but he’s also made some great plays.  He even forced his first fumble last week.  Byrd has the talent and the brains to finish with an A.  Until then, how about a little more fan support?

Overall Secondary Grade: B-
Don’t let the numbers fool you — this unit is coming together.  Sure, they hit a little speed bump against the Giants, but this young, emerging group of talented individuals (except for Browner) is becoming a problem for opposing offenses.  This New Orleans Saints secondary has a very bright future.  With a weak schedule on the second half agenda, the entire defense should see a great deal of improvement.  Rob Ryan’s department is developing into something special much quicker than expected.

Next: Special Teams

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