This was a strange one. The Saints‘ offense largely looked pretty good leading up to a 24-6 lead and then nothing. The motor was completely shut off and there was no semblance of threat from them for the remainder of the contest. It went from effective to watching LSU’s offense against Alabama’s defense in the national title game all over again. What happened to this unit? The offensive line seemed to quit. Below are the grades and I maintain that the most disappointing part of this shocking defeat (shocking because the Saints had the Chiefs dead to rights) is that the offense couldn’t manage a single first down in the 4th quarter or overtime. Shameful. This is what teams with an inept rookie quarterback do, not Drew Brees‘ Saints. The GPA’s, which represent the cumulative effort of the season, are stupid low through three games. Pretty disheartening.
Drew Brees: C+ (2.00) The statistics overall were decent. 20 for 36 for 240 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. After that interception Brees seemed to completely lose confidence. His accuracy was off and he was constantly running for his life. The blocking became atrocious, and the common play run would be Brees running away from pressure and throwing the ball away. He must have done that 8 times in this game, which I guess is an improvement over what he did in Carolina (referencing the pick six). Overall Brees is just not playing that well right now. He’s making mistakes, he’s missing throws, and no one is really helping him out. That said, when he had time and a receiver was open, the ball was almost always right on the money. Avoid the pass rush and then flipping the ball to PT for a nice gain was a nice rabbit out of the hat to turn a play going nowhere into something good.
Mark Ingram: D+ (2.11) 5 carries for 11 yards. A total waste. He was effective once again in short yardage situations, but otherwise he gave the offense almost zero value. Oh, and he looked lost in pass protection.
Pierre Thomas: B- (3.22) After a whale of a game last week, he was mostly kept in check. He had a touchdown reversed that I still just don’t understand or agree with. I watched the replay numerous times and I don’t see the ball hit the turf or it really move once it gets in his hands. It’s too bad, because the effort he made to dive and secure that football was magical. He had just 6 carries for 11 yards. He also had 4 catches for 55 yards and as usual showed terrific effort refusing to go down. He also had a fantastic head’s up blitz pickup.
Darren Sproles: C+ (3.00) He was his usual daring and risk taking self on returns, but it produced nothing. He averaged 26.8 yards on 4 kick returns, most of those coming from deep in the end zone, and a punt return for 2 years. Oddly he didn’t catch a single pass in this game after largely being the sole target for chunks of other games. He did run the football very well, with 7 carries for 67 yards. In fact, his 47 yard scamper on the opening drive accounted for more than half of the Saints’ daily rushing total. He had a horrible drop that hit him right in the hands on 3rd down screen flare.
Jed Collins: B- (2.45) His blocking was very up and down, but his grade gets a nice boost for a nice 6 yard touchdown reception where he showed nice athleticism and strength taking a tackler into the end zone.
Marques Colston: D (1.33) He is having an absolute disaster of a season. He is suffering from plantar fasciitis, and if you’ve ever had that injury you know that it can be very painful. In fact, the really bad cases make it very hard to walk. The weird thing is he was targeted three times on the opening drive, two being nice catches and one being a dropped touchdown pass. After that? One target the entire rest of the game. He finished with 3 catches for 40 yards and couldn’t get open to save his life. His just does not have the ability to create any separation from corners right now. Maybe re-signing him to that long term extension was a mistake?
Devery Henderson: B (2.50) It was nice to see DH back after that scary concussion in the opener where he was knocked out cold. He made a couple of outstanding catches that were out of this world good. It’s funny, he entered the league as a speedster that couldn’t catch, and now it’s almost like he has terrific hands and no speed. He finished with 4 catches for 53 yards and made a decent contribution considering he’s banged up. He does seem to come up gimpy every single time he takes a hit, though, and seemed slow after appearing to roll his ankle early in the game.
Lance Moore: B- (2.56) Another mysterious performance by Moore where he goes on a hot streak making a bunch of really nice plays sprinkling in some sick catches, before randomly disappearing for long stretches. He had 4 catches for 70 yards and a beautiful touchdown where he got airborne and came down with a tough grab.
Jimmy Graham: D+ (2.33) What happened to Jimmy Graham in this game?! He finished with just 4 catches for 16 yards and a touchdown, and was largely responsible for the offense going dormant. He had several bad drops, including two that are just catches he normally makes with his eyes closed. Horrible lack of concentration there.
David Thomas: C- (1.78) He came in a blocked a good bit, and mostly did fine. He was completely useless in passing situations, though, and no help moving the chains.
Jermon Bushrod: C- (1.56) I’m sorry, this guy is not a Pro Bowl left tackle. Either that, or the NFC is completely devoid of any talent across the board at that position. He was beaten around the edge numerous times and just couldn’t keep up. By contrast, I thought his run blocking was once again impeccable. He had a nice pull on a PT screen, and he was physical playing to the whistle. He also did a horrible job once missing a blitz pickup which opened a lane for Brees to get killed.
Ben Grubbs: B- (2.44) Pretty clean game from Grubbs who liked pretty good out there. Not enough push in the running game to help get that going, but his pass protection was solid.
Brian de la Puente: C (1.44) It wasn’t a good game by any means, but it was a huge improvement over the $#%&show of the two weeks prior. The vast majority of the pressure the Saints saw game from the edges, but it was occasionally from the interior and BDLP’s guy if it was. It was an ok performance, though. Good early, bad late, much like the rest of the offense.
Jahri Evans: B (2.56) A very solid game in pass protection. When everyone was falling apart around him he did an excellent job of keeping his composure and having a clean game. He didn’t offer much help to Strief, though, who was struggling big time. Some short of scheme shift to accommodate that was definitely in order. Like the rest of the run push wasn’t good enough, particularly on the right side.
Zach Strief: D (1.67) He arguably cost the team the game with very poor pass protection. Very poor start to the season for Strief who graded so highly last year. Linebacker Justin Houston made him look silly and Strief almost got Brees killed. Strief was also responsible for the safety that made the game tying drive possible. Houston finished the game with 3 sacks. In his defense there were times in the game where he looked good, but his mistakes by far outweigh any positives.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Devery Henderson