D'Brickashaw Ferguson had a couple of rough plays. In the second quarter, Smith ran around Ferguson in the end zone, sacking Sanchez, causing a fumble that was recovered by the Saints for a touchdown. Brick was also beat by Smith for a late sack. But in all fairness, there were other breakdowns on the line on this play, and several players converged on Sanchez at the same time.
But Ferguson also did a number of good things in this game. On the Shonn Greene gain of nine in the second quarter, D'Brickashaw and Alan Faneca opened up a gaping hole on the left side, and the runner shot right through it. In the middle of third quarter, two plays after the Reggie Bush fumble, a Leon Washington screen went for 15 yards on the left side, and Brick was way out on in front on this play. And then on the next play, a Thomas Jones touchdown, also a 15-yard run, Ferguson's great block on Smith was the key to this play. He pushed him back on skates out of the play. Another impressive play from Brick was in the first quarter, when he was way down field helping lead the way on the left side on a Wildcat run by Brad Smith for 18 yards.
Damien Woody had an up-and-down performance before leaving with an ankle injury. On the aforementioned Greene gain of nine, Woody had a terrific block on DE Charles Grant. Woody had another nice run block on Grant in the third quarter, when he and Tony Richardson (on Tony Hargrove) opened up a big hole on the right side for Jones, who gained six yards.
But Woody had some pass protection issues. Early in the third, Grant pushed him back and sacked Sanchez. Then a few plays later, on the same series, Grant pushed Woody back again and this QB pressure forced Sanchez to throw the ball away.
There was a play involving Grant late in the first half that made little sense from a protection standpoint. Grant came off the edge unblocked and sacked Sanchez. There was nobody on him. Woody blocked somebody else. Now I'm not sure if this was Woody's fault, but it's hard to imagine a play where nobody is assigned to one of the better defensive ends in the league. Nobody even attempted to pick him up.
Wayne Turner took over for the injured Woody late in the game, and Grant gave him fits also, like when he ran by him late in the game forcing Sanchez to scramble.
Faneca played a terrific game. Also, the blocking on the Jones' 15-yard TD run in the third was awesome. Every lineman picked somebody up, and Jones ran it in rather easily.
Overall, the line did a lot of good and bad., but like I said before, you have to keep in mind that Smith and Grant are an awesome end combination, and they are going to make their share of plays. And remember it was loud as heck in the Superdome, and that favors the pass rushers.
The defensive line had a solid game for the most part, though the Saints did run for 153 yards and a 4.8 average, and they have to take some of the blame for that. Kris Jenkins finished with one assisted tackle, but like we've said before his contributions often don't show up on the stat sheet, like when he drew a holding call on center Jonathan Goodwin on the Saints first possession.
Jenkins also had the costly off-sides call on fourth down in the fourth quarter. I'm not going to make excuses for Jenkins on this play, but I think the Jets made a mistake dressing only five defensive linemen for this game, and it looked like the defensive linemen were running on fumes late in the game. Sometimes when you are really tired, this can lead to penalties.
We all know the Saints are known for their long sustained drives under the direction of Drew Brees. So with that being said, do you think five defensive linemen is enough for this game?
They could have used Howard Green. But all this plays into the Vernon Gholston situation. Does Rex have the gumption to de-activate him? Gholston played extensively and had one tackle. Stop with the PR nonsense. The Jets had backup outside linebackers Jamaal Westerman, Marques Murrell and Jason Trusnik, all who are better than Ghoston, up for this game. That is a lot of backup OLB's, but since Gholston's role on special teams is limited, they need these guys. Murrell made more plays in his limited time than Gholston did in his extensive time. This plays into the play of the defensive line because they were too thin at the position in this game, and part of the reason is this PR campaign going on with Gholston.
Sione Pouha, Marques Douglas and Mike DeVito all did some good things in this game. In the fourth quarter, DeVito shot into the backfield, forcing RB Pierre Thomas into the hands of Douglas for a loss of one.
And let's not forget what a great job the defensive line did on the goalline stand in the second quarter. Against an offense as potent as the Saints, that is an impressive accomplishment.