Best and worst PFF Saints player grades from Week 11

You never want to read too deeply into the Pro Football Focus player grades each week, given how they’re a big simplification of performance, but they are a useful tool in highlighting which New Orleans Saints players are on the field making positive plays (or being at fault for negative ones) most often. It’s a good starting point towards recapping a matchup, as is the case this week after the Saints’ 27-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

To that point, let’s take a look at the highest and lowest player grades from offense and defense:

Top 5 players on offense (minimum 19 snaps)

  1. 87.7 – WR Chris Olave (28 snaps)

  2. 85.9 – QB Andy Dalton (40 snaps)

  3. 77.6 – WR Jarvis Landry (32 snaps)

  4. 70.9 – TE Taysom Hill (24 snaps)

  5. 69.4 – TE Juwan Johnson (36 snaps)

We saw the Saints passing game wake up a bit this week, although Dalton settled for too many throws short of the sticks (he only converted a first down on 13 of his 21 pass completions). A better-placed ball to Landry would have scored a touchdown early in the game but it fell low enough for the Rams defense to swat it away. But we’re focusing on the positives here, and it’s that Dalton stepped up and weaponized Olave when the Saints needed him to. It still doesn’t feel like they’re getting the most out of the rookie wideout, even though he leads the league’s first-year players in receiving yards.

It’s also worth noting that this game saw the highest usage for Hill that we’ve seen all season — he was in on 42% of the Saints’ snaps on offense, rotating often at quarterback with Dalton. And it worked well. The Saints were able to move the ball well in the second half with Hill threatening LA’s defense from a variety of alignments. It’s important they keep him involved moving forward.

Top 5 players on defense (minimum 21 snaps)

  1. 91.3 – LB Kaden Elliss (59 snaps)

  2. 89.6 – DE Carl Granderson (49 snaps)

  3. 76.0 – CB Paulson Adebo (64 snaps)

  4. 75.8 – S Tyrann Mathieu (64 snaps)

  5. 74.6 – LB Demario Davis (64 snaps)

Honorable Mention: DE Payton Turner (69.3 grade on 13 snaps)

Take a bow, Elliss. The veteran linebacker has filled in really well for Pete Werner these last two weeks, but he’s doing a lot of damage as a pass rusher (something Werner typically isn’t asked to do). Elliss was credited with 4 pressures (2 sacks and 2 hurries) in this game as well as 8 tackles (4 solo, 6 stops). He also broke up one of the passes thrown into his coverage, although the others were completed to gain 22 yards. He’s making the most of this opportunity.

This was also one of the better games Mathieu has played this year. He was targeted 3 times but yielded just 9 yards (although the Rams did score a touchdown pass against him) while breaking up one of those passes. He also had 5 tackles. He was partially at fault on that long Tutu Atwell touchdown catch in rallying too late as the safety helped over the top, but that’s not a role he should be playing anyway. The Saints need a younger player with fresh legs in that position. He’s at his best playing downhill towards the line of scrimmage.

As for Turner: he was active early on both as a pass rusher and in run defense, but an unlucky ankle injury cut him down. Hopefully his injury isn’t as serious as it appeared to be.

Bottom 5 players on offense (minimum 19 snaps)

  1. 32.5 – RG Cesar Ruiz (57 snaps)

  2. 46.2 – C Josh Andrews (57 snaps)

  3. 52.7 – RT Ryan Ramczyk (57 snaps)

  4. 52.7 – WR Rashid Shaheed (28 snaps)

  5. 54.3 – WR Marquez Callaway (27 snaps)

It was a rough day for the right side of the Saints offensive line, which makes sense when you see that’s where Aaron Donald was lining up. He bullied the backup center Andrews (filling in for Erik McCoy) and pushed Ruiz around a fair bit, but that’s what he does. He’s a future Hall of Famer for good reason. It’s a testament to the Saints’ offensive line that they were able to contain him as well as they did and kept Donald from completely trashing their game plan.

It’s interesting to see Shaheed so active. He ran more routes (21) than Chris Olave (20), Jarvis Landry (19), and Marquez Callaway (8) this week, which suggests he’s quickly picking up the playbook and the Saints are looking for ways to get him involved. He’s a unique athlete in their receiving corps and has a ton of potential, if they can find a quarterback who can uncork it.

Bottom 5 players on defense (minimum 19 snaps)

  1. 33.0 – CB Chris Harris Jr. (63 snaps)

  2. 39.7 – DE Jabari Zuniga (25 snaps)

  3. 54.2 – CB Alontae Taylor (64 snaps)

  4. 60.0 – DT Shy Tuttle (26 snaps)

  5. 62.4 – S Marcus Maye (64 snaps)

We’ll start on the bad grade for Taylor, who was credited with 5 tackles (1 missed) while being targeted 6 times in the afternoon. He only allowed 3 receptions for 41 yards, with the longest pass completed against his coverage gaining 17 yards. He also broke up a pass and wasn’t fouled in this game. It was a nice rebound after his rough performance last week.

Harris can’t be out there playing this many snaps. He was the weak link in coverage this week with the Rams going after him 9 times, completing 6 passes for 126 yards (including a 62-yard touchdown reception). But with Marshon Lattimore still out of action and Bradley Roby on injured reserve, they lack alternatives. Going back to Justin Evans as the primary slot defender doesn’t feel like the right move either.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire

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