For a long time the Saints offense being awesome has been like the sun rising in the east, its just assumed. However, the Saints have played 5 games so far in 2017 and the game has yet to come where the offense has looked ‘awesome’, that is kind of crazy to say in a game where the Saints put up 52 points, but its true. The Saints offense has yet to have that game where everything comes together, in particular the passing game hasn’t been the consistent force it has been in the past. That doesn’t mean the offense isn’t capable of turning the corner and coming into form, in fact with the offense now getting two players back in Willie Snead and Terron Armstead I expect the passing game to improve. But, while I have confidence in their ability to do so, only time will tell if they’ll ever return to form in 2017.
Without further ado here are the grades, as always level of competition is factored in.
Another game, another average grade for Drew. Brees really had two different halves against the Lions. In the first half he was an A-, Drew was accurate, composed, and deadly as he completed 12 of his first 14 passes and methodically dissected the Lion’s defense in the first half. In the second half things started off ok, but once the Saints called off the dogs and the Lions started to make their run Drew totally fell apart. The offense as a whole did not have a great second half, but Brees missed some makeable throws, threw 2 picks, and one of them was a brutal pick 6. Drew is held to the highest standard because of the standards he has created for himself, his first half kept him away from a D, but only just. I don’t think Drew has ‘lost it’ or anything like that, but he does need to get into a better rhythm and the weapons need to step up to help him (the receivers in particular).
Tight End: A-
Michael Hoomanawanui showed out in this game. He made some plays down field, he blocked well, he caught a TD, ‘Hooman’ alone was enough to earn this group an A for the day. The tight ends haven’t been featured in the passing game as much in the past, some of that having to do with Brees getting rid of the ball very quickly, but the opportunities they did have they capitalized on and it made a difference in the game.
Wide Receivers: D+
There is one reason that this isn’t an F, Ted Ginn Jr came to play in the first half and was a huge asset in the passing game. Willie Snead and Michael Thomas couldn’t get open, and produced basically nothing throughout both halves. Brandon Coleman made a terrible decision late in the game where if he chose to cut up the field he almost definitely picks up the first down and the Saints likely run out the clock. Michael Thomas was a ghost in this game, he couldn’t be seen and we weren’t sure he existed. There is no question that Detroit dedicated resources to keeping him quiet, however this isn’t the first game this year where he’s been essentially erased. The Standard I’m holding Thomas to is the ‘number 1 receiver’ we all hyped him to be going into the season. Thomas has 321 receiving yards through 5 games, that’s barely over 50 yards a game. That isn’t bad, I’m not trashing him, but the Saints will need him to take it to that next level we all believe he has if they want the passing game to break out.
Offensive Line: B+
Some struggles with run blocking in the final quarter and a half marred what was an absolute mugging in the first half. Terron Armstead being back makes an incredible difference, it just does. He made some awesome blocks in the run game and helped spring Kamara on one of his big runs, and of course he gave up no pressure. Andrus Peat was a human wrecking ball throughout the game, and this against a stout Detroit front, Warford continues to be great when working in space, and Ryan Ramczyk continues to grow into a very solid right tackle. The unit was more inconsistent in the 2nd half, but overall the Saints offensive line had their best game of the season.
Running Backs: A+
Mark Ingram had 150 yards from scrimmage, Kamara had 75 yards on 10 carries, and the Saints running game was a dominant force throughout the first half and was (other than the defense) the biggest reason the Saints ran out to the 45-10 lead they enjoyed in the 3rd quarter. The Saints backs ran with power (yes both of them), they ran with speed, vision, balance, and confidence. Adrian Peterson had a great game in his first action as the lead back (not surprising to me), and the Saints had BETTER production without him. This was a true win-win situation and the Saints two headed monster has finally emerged as the true weapon of the offense. It’s total theft, but I’m nicknaming Kamara and Ingram as the ‘bludgeon brothers’.