We've broken down the first and second half of the loss to the Saints but you may be asking, what about individual players? Well here's who stood up and had a good game and who stood out as having a sub-par game, in my opinion. The players aren't listed in any particular order other than the order that they popped into my head. Disclaimer: I re-watched the first half after the game last night but couldn't force myself to sit through the second half again. So if I say something about a guy who played predominately in the second half that you don't agree with, feel free to jump in and correct me if you didn't see it the same way.
-----------------------------Players Who Stood Up:-----------------------------
Matt Leinart: I have to start with Matt because I thought he had a really good game. Granted he only threw eight passes and took mostly checkdowns, but I thought he looked patient in the pocket and was comfortable enough to take a short gain instead of holding onto the ball and trying to force something or taking a sack. I've heard some people downplay his performance because he 'just threw short passes' but such a big part of the game is putting the ball in the hands of your playmakers so that they can make plays. His yards per attempt was an amazing 11.4 and it's worth pointing out that no quarterback has broken ten yards per attempt since 1954.
Tim Hightower: What can I say the kid, other than he looked pretty good. He ran between the tackles with authority and showed a nice burst to the outside on his touchdown run. He showed good vision on a couple of cutbacks and does a good job keeping his feet under him when he runs so that he can make quick cuts. He whiffed at a blitzer in pass protection allowing a sack on St. Pierre. His pass protection will need some work but he didn't do anything last night to take the shine off his impressive training camp.
Terrelle Smith: Smith is supposed to be the blocking fullback who can't contribute in other areas but he made a nice adjustment on a pass above his numbers and turned the short pass into a 15 yard gain. Smith is in a battle with Tim Castille for the starting fullback job but if can contribute a play or two a game like that he just might hold onto the job for another season.
Steve Breaston: Breaston certainly made the reports of his progression ring true with his performance. He looked quick and elusive with the ball in his hands and he showed some feisty-ness by getting in a shoving match with Aaron Glenn after a short reception. His 34 yard reception on a shallow crossing route was a promising sign of things to come. Only time will tell if he develops into a complete receiver but he seems capable becoming a weapon out of the slot.
Ali Highsmith: Highsmith not only led the team in tackles and caused a fumble but
he was all over the field. He showed some toughness during the goal line stand and also was decent in pass coverage. He's up against a lot of depth at linebacker but if he continues to perform like this, they'll be forced to find a spot for him on this roster.
Rookie Defensive Ends: Calais Campbell and Kenny Iwebema combined for six tackles and a sack. Iwebema showed some decent agility avoiding a cut block to bring down Brunell for his sack. Campbell's four tackles included two for no gain and one tackle for loss. Iwebema also added a special teams tackle.
Safeties: Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson both showed up with big plays during their limited playing time. Rolle had one of the bigger hits during the game with a hard shot to tight end Mark Campbell and he weaved through some traffic to make a nice tackle on a screen pass. Wilson's one tackle in limited playing time was to drop Reggie Bush for a one yard loss on the first drive of the game.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: There's no way that this list couldn't include DRC. He didn't have a pick or a pass defense but he did have the biggest hits in the game when he flattened Mark Campbell. Campbell held onto the pass but had to be helped off the field.
-----------------------------Players Who Stood Out-----------------------------
Alan Branch: A "flickering light" as described by Coach Whisenhunt, looked completely off last night. Somehow he still managed two tackles but for the most part he looked like very lackadaisical. He, at times, seemed quite content just standing up and leaning against whichever blocker engaged him. It's way to early to write him off but if you watch him closely, you can see why the coaching staff is down on him right now.
J.J. Arrington: Arrington didn't really have a bad game, especially by his standards, but he didn't do anything in my opinion to prove that deserves to play ahead of Tim Hightower. He still can't break a tackle and his just isn't the dynamic force out the backfield that you'd expect for a guy with his speed. Now that I think about it, he might be best described as a "poor-mans" Reggie Bush.
Aaron Francisco: Francisco had a rough game and one of the most visible Cardinals who struggled. He was the point man on two deep passes and was also the closest defender on the first touchdown scored by the Saints. He had trouble adjusting to the ball in air, but he'll have better games because he's a better player than he showed last night.
Brian St. Pierre: St. Pierre started out decent and at halftime had a decent line of 6 of 8 for 46 yards but after halftime he really struggled He would go 6 of 10 for just 28 yards in the second half. He knows Whisenhunt's system but that's about all he brings to the table. He's an average to below average athlete and his arm strength and accuracy are not anything to get excited about. Hopefully he'll spend another season the sidelines wearing a baseball cap and collecting a paycheck.
Sean Morey: He only had one catch for five yards so it's hard to pick his game apart but for that four or five seconds that he had the ball in his hands, I was pretty unimpressed. In fact, I thought it was a tight end running with the ball at first. I know he makes his living on special teams but if Rector and Urban continue to stand out, he could be on the outside looking in.
Anthony Morelli: He only played two series at the end of the game but it was pretty clear that he doesn't have the mental part of the game down. He wasn't able to dial back his big arm on a dump off pass to Baylark and he doesn't have a sense of when to get rid of the ball. These are things that we already knew but it'll be interesting if he's able to get any better over the next four weeks.
Tight Ends: I was hoping that both tight ends would come out and have really good games considering that they're both fighting to be the starter, but they both disappointed. Pope jumped offsides on the touchdown drive and his only catch was Leinart's first pass, a one yard dump off pass. Patrick had a better game when you compare the two but he dropped a short pass from St. Pierre at the start of the second half. His one reception did go for 16 yards though. They'll both have better games considering that Pope is still trying to get back to 100% and Patrick is still fine tuning his craft.
So what do you guys think? Agree/Disagree? Who else stood up or out to you guys?