The offense only scored 25 and gifted the Seahawks 7, but make no mistake, these guys are awesome. This is a special offense. Different and maybe not quite as good as 2009 or 2011, but special in its own way. When they play at home especially, they are very hard to stop. Imagine if they actually did a good job cashing in from inside the 2 in this game, they could’ve scored a good bit more. Seattle has an exceptional front, though, so I don’t think many defenses could have held the Saints to 25 on this day. The emergence of Michael Thomas is making Brees look younger, too. This offense can carry this team places, despite all its shortcomings. This was a big win, and at 3-4 there’s hope for the future games.
Drew Brees: A- (3.19) It wasn’t his most prolific performance but the efficiency was on point. The Saints did a fantastic job owning the time of possession and Brees was excellent moving the chains managing down and distance to keep the clock running. He was 27 for 35 for 265 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 rushing touchdown on a dive over the line from the 1. His only shot downfield was a perfect thrown ball to Cooks that could have been caught. I didn’t give him a flat A because he didn’t put up his usual massive stat line but that’s about as good as a QB can play against that defense. Very solid day.
Mark Ingram: D- (2.29) I’m not going to fail him because he didn’t get enough reps. But 3 carries for 5 yards and a lost fumble that resulted in a Seahawks touchdown to open the scoring in the contest should have had disastrous effects. I was convinced the moment that happened that the game was over. He’s not playing well and ball security is an issue for him right now. Surprising because it’s usually not the case. Ingram was benched after his fumble and never saw the field again. It’ll be interesting to see how long this stretch of poor play keeps him out of the lineup.
Tim Hightower: B (2.38) He stepped in for Ingram and was a workhorse. My main gripe would be his continued failures to punch the ball in the end zone on multiple carries from the 1. Part of that was blocking and maybe a little bit of it was lack of short yardage power. Otherwise, he did a fantastic job showing speed, toughness and finishing his runs. He had 26 carries for 102 yards and became the first 100 yard rusher for the Saints on the season. He did a good job in pass protection too. He had 1 reception for no yards. It was awesome to see him rip a 28 yarder against that defense after how hard it’s been to run on them the last couple of times these two team have played.
Daniel Lasco: C+ (2.58) At one point he picked up two blitzers and took them both out of the play. His power in protection is something that may get him more opportunities. He had 5 carries for 15 yards and did a decent job on special teams.
Travaris Cadet: C- (2.14) Muffed a kick return that he had to fall on for no gain. That play was a disaster. He 1 catch for 7 yards receiving.
John Kuhn: C (2.81) The Saints didn’t use him as much as usual blocking but he had some snaps. It was interesting to see Josh Hill as a fullback on occasion in his place. Why the Saints didn’t try Kuhn from the 1 at least once I have no idea. The guy gets you yards when you need them. I thought his blocking was hit or miss. He had 2 catches for 17 yards to go with a bad drop.
Brandin Cooks: B (2.95) I thought he could/should have could that deep ball but it was contested by Earl Thomas who got his hand in there. Otherwise, it was a workmanlike 4 catch, 44 yard, 1 touchdown game. He had one exceptional catch where he got up and showed off his absurd vertical ability, and he showed good lateral quickness getting into the end zone on a short throw.
Michael Thomas: B+ (3.29) Led the Saints with 6 catches for 63 yards on 6 targets. A few of those targets came against Richard Sherman and he was able to measure up against the best and make plays. He showed hands, strength, drew penalties, and once again ability after the catch. There’s a decent chance he’s going to have the highest GPA of any player on the roster by the end of the year. We’re still waiting for bigger plays down the field, but he’s making the most of his rookie season.
Willie Snead, IV: B (2.94) Whenever it was third down, it seemed like Brees found Snead for a clutch conversion. His ability to work zones is SO good and his hands are excellent. He finished with an extremely useful 6 catches for 56 yards.
Brandon Coleman: B- (2.44) He was targeted twice and had 2 catches for 44 yards. One was a 38 yard reception where he sold the flea flicker well and roasted Richard Sherman by baiting him into believing he was a blocker. He made a terrific play there. The other was a 6 yard reception in the middle of a zone near the goal line where he catches the ball a yard short of the first down and immediately goes down. He could have easily gotten the first down if he had more awareness there. I thought about giving him a harsher grade, but the flea flicker play was real nice in a game where big plays were hard to come by.
Coby Fleener: B- (2.29) A quiet 4 catches for 36 yards on 4 targets. Pretty solid overall and I even saw him do some blocking. One reception was big for a first down. He went down like a rag doll on a 2 point conversion shovel pass attempt. Decent day. He outperformed Jimmy Graham (3 catches for 34 yards) which was funny.
Josh Hill: B- (2.59) He had an important tackle in special teams coverage to limit and already good return. He was in as a blocker a good bit and I thought he looked good in that role. His lone target was a 3 yard reception but his primary help was buying Brees time in protection and helping the run game go. Since his return from injury he’s been helpful in subtle ways.
Terron Armstead: B+ (3.17) Guts out another great game playing with a hurt knee. He was moving well considering and holding up perfectly in pass protection. I feel like the knee makes him maybe slightly less physical in the run game but overall how can you not be impressed? The guy is a stud.
Andrus Peat: B (2.83) Didn’t seem to show ill effects from the injury. Appeared to miss a sliding rotation which led to a Frank Clark sack and had a bad false start penalty that turned Wil Lutz’s last field goal into a 41 yarder instead of a 36 yarder. Otherwise I thought most good runs came behind him. He looked big and physical in the trenches. The concerns about him being a bust are gone in my mind. He’s a pretty good left guard and he’s having a nice season so far. Definitely not the liability we feared in preseason.
Max Unger: B- (3.14) The lack of push near the goal line wasn’t ideal. I thought Unger was solid overall and continues to play at a good level. This wasn’t his best game, though, and I didn’t seem him pulling and extending runs at the second level like I normally see.
Jahri Evans: C (2.52) Didn’t get much going in run blocking and crossed up on a double stunt that led to Cliff Avril coming inside and getting that sack on the final drive. He had his moments but I feel like his play has dropped a little bit the last two weeks.
Zach Strief: C (2.76) Called for holding once. He was pushed back into an Ingram run that got blown up. Played a part on the last Brees sack. Like Evans he had his moments, but it wasn’t consistent overall.
Senio Kelemete: C- (2.50) Flagged twice and not a big help in jumbo packages. I feel like when he was in as an edge blocker the runs didn’t do as well because the Seahawks knew they were coming.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Drew Brees