Below are the offensive player grades for the flawed victory at St. Louis. The grade represents the player's performance for the game and the GPA behind it in parentheses represents the player's cumulative effort for all games combined.
Drew Brees: C (2.96) Is anyone getting tired of Brees' turnover penchant? Yes, he's the franchise's savior, yes, he's an mvp candidate, and yes, we should all be thankful he's the quarterback of the Saints. But he really hasn't looked all that great in recent games. He's played good enough to win, but he hasn't played mistake free football. I've given him lenient grading up until now, but this time it's going to be a little harsher. He finished 18 for 26 for 223yds, 2 TD's and 2 INT's. His second interception in particular was a horribly overthrown pass intended for Shockey. I will admit that his touchdown pass to Meachem was one of the prettiest passes he's thrown all season, so give him credit for that. The main disappointment for me, though, was that the offense had the opportunity to kill the game TWICE and Brees misfired on two third down attempts to keep the chains moving. Normally you can at least count on Brees, even on an abnormally pedestrian day this season, to come through in the clutch. Today, he didn't, and his grade suffered because of it. I was also frustrated by the constant reliance on the security valve throw underneath and what I perceived as sometimes questionable clock management (spiking on 3rd down before halftime with 6 seconds left).
Reggie Bush: A (2.59) I thought this was Bush's best game of the season. He looked shifty, quick, and elusive. I understand he's not your prototypical running back, but when someone gets you 83 yards on 6 carries - how can you not give them more carries?? His 17 yard run on the first drive was impressive. His 55 yard breakaway career long run was amazing. Oh, and he also ran for a score and caught another one. In short, he was awesome.
Mike Bell: C (2.81) He finished with 8 carries for 30 yards. He showed decent effort. He didn't really get into the game or get a chance to show his stuff.
Pierre Thomas: C+ (3.09) 11 carries for 37 yards for Thomas. He was barely more involved than Bell, and no more effective. He also caught a pass for 5 yards.
Marques Colston: D+ (2.74) Colston finished with just 2 catches for 17 yards, and was almost never targeted. Perhaps he was feeling the ill effects (no pun intended) of the flu he was battling earlier in the week. He also rushed once for 6 yards, though I can't for the life of me understand why he'd get a reverse over Meachem or Henderson. Colston, despite his massive size, decided to try the Reggie Bush leap over the end zone which resulted in a big fumble. The Rams stopped the Saints inches from scoring, and that kept the game close. That's back to back horrendous games from Colston, so hopefully he can bounce back. His GPA is falling fast. He does deserve credit, though, for throwing a terrific block on Reggie Bush's first touchdown run.
Devery Henderson: B+ (3.15) It's truly been special to watch this player's maturation into a complete NFL receiver. We can no longer accuse him of having bad hands. How many drops does he have this year anyway? One? He made reliable catches and was dangerous after the catch. Another solid performance from Devery, who's been the most consistent threat in the passing game this season. He finished with 4 catches for 72 yards, and was wide open on a couple of Brees' misfires.
Robert Meachem: B+ (2.90) I can't really give him a better grade when he touched the ball 2 times. That said, to say he makes the most of his touches is a gross understatement. Once again Meachem was a difference maker, and he's finally validating the decision to draft him in the first round. Just one catch, but it happened to be 27 yards for a touchdown and was the difference in the game. Oh, and he took a reverse 41 yards to set up another score. Did you all see how fast he was on that play? Wow.
Jeremy Shockey: C (3.07) Just 3 catches for 42 yards. In most blocking sets, the Saints relied more on David Thomas and Darnell Dinkins. Shockey was the target on both interceptions, though neither can really be blamed on him. A very quiet day for the former Pro Bowler.
David Thomas: A- (2.14) Not only did Thomas move the chains and prove himself to be a very reliable target, he was fantastic blocking. Give him all the credit on the Meachem reverse, as he completely took out a would be tackler to clear up an open field for #17. He did a formidable job in the fullback position, too. 5 catches for 45 yards on a day where he was often targeted. I'd give him an A if he had gotten in the end zone.
Jermon Bushrod: B (2.84) Bushrod was mostly fine. He got Brees hit once and sacked once by Chris Long, but on both plays Brees could have had better pocket awareness and gotten rid of the ball sooner. His run blocking wasn't great, but it was pretty good.
Carl Nicks: B (3.00) Nicks was great in pass blocking, but the run blocking wasn't as good as usual. The Saints in general didn't have a tremendous amount of success running on the left side.
Jonathan Goodwin: B (3.04) He was having a fantastic game, but I got annoyed at him for missing a block on the screen pass to Pierre Thomas. He was also partly to blame for Eckel getting stacked up on that 4th down play. He makes his assignment there and the game is basically over. Otherwise, he was solid in pass protection.
Jahri Evans: A- (3.33) Evans continues to prove why he's Pro Bowl worthy. The right side of the Rams' line was neutralized all day. Every single successful run came from the right side. He threw a phenomenal block on Bush's 55 yard scamper. I'd give him an A but he should have had more push on the 4th down play.
Jon Stinchcomb: A- (2.96) Matched up against an aging but very dangerous defensive end in Leonard Little, Stinchcomb ate him alive. He was also responsible for a terrific block on Bush's long run. On Bush's 17 yard run in the 1st quarter, he was also involved. Little finished with 1 tackle and never even got close to touching Brees. Stinchcomb is playing some good football right now.
Darnell Dinkins: D (1.34) The Saints pained through weeks of this guy being hurt, for what? He blocked poorly, he can't catch, and he had ANOTHER false start penalty. I realize this guy is supposed to be a good blocker, but at what point do the Saints decide he's not worth a roster spot when he hurts us every time he's on the field? I hate to be hard on him because I know he's capable of better, but Dinkins is making too many mistakes for how little he plays.
Kyle Eckel: C (1.84) He was ok in run blocking. The Saints overall had more success running with David Thomas as the fullback. Give him credit for converting a 3rd and short with a nice 7 yard run. That got him another opportunity on 4th and 2, but he got stacked for a loss. That was a critical point in the game, but I blame bad play calling for that play more so than Eckel.
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