While the defense wasn’t anything to write home about against the Saints, they certainly weren’t the biggest issue for the team. In fact, considering the number of short fields they were set up with, they held their own against a normally tough New Orleans offense, largely limiting the damage. Let’s take a look at the guys who weren’t a complete embarrassment on Thursday.
After a couple of games of not showing up on this list, Grady reminded us that he is the best defensive player on this team. In fact, he’s one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league and we’re lucky to have him. Whether it was stuffing the run, getting in Drew Brees face or chasing down a runner from sideline to sideline, Jarrett is one of the few guys who shows up no matter what the record. He deserved every penny of that new contract.
Rico has had a tough year, along with the rest of the secondary. In recent weeks, though, he’s been returning to form. He’s been incredible in run support and was key in breaking up some passes to Michael Thomas throughout the evening. In fact, Brees was mostly unable to challenge deep and Allen was a big part of that.
Don’t look now, but the rookie corner out of Ohio State is growing right before our eyes. He had a solid game and in his direct match ups with Michael Thomas, Sheffield came out on the plus side several times. If he can continue to learn and develop past this season, the Falcons may have found another mid-round gem.
I don’t know why fans have turned on Debo this year, but he has been one of our better defensive players all season. He may not be having the blockbuster year many hoped for, but he’s far from the biggest issue on the D. He demonstrated that on Thursday with his excellent coverage and diagnosing plays. He led the team in tackles with 7 and - along with Grady Jarrett - is a cornerstone player for this defense.
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