Since the Saints essentially quit at the end of the Bucs game, I'm not going to put too much effort into the grades either. It's been a great season with the Saints ending up 11-5 and getting a wild card birth. I know that pales in comparison to the top seed a year ago, but as a Saints fan for the 30 years of my life, a wild card birth is not much to be disappointed with. Below are the grades.Drew Brees: B- (2.87) A lot of you blast me if Brees' grade is ever lower than a B-. Even if he plays a bad game, the general sentiment seems to be that he does nothing wrong and it's the fault of people around him. That's fine, I give up. Brees gets a B- for a below average performance. He finished 22-38 for 196 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception that wasn't his fault. He also lost a fumble. The turnovers hurt the Saints badly. Don't get me wrong I love Drew Brees as much as anyone else that's a Saints fan. We'd be lost without him. I just think, overall, this was a slightly disappointing year by his standards.
Chase Daniel C+ (2.33) He didn't get a chance to show much, and I was sure if the fumbled pitch to Bush was his fault or Reggie's. He had good command in the huddle and delivered accurate footballs, though. I feel good about him coming in in a pinch if we ever needed him. He finished 2 for 3 for 16 yards.
Reggie Bush: B+ (2.33) Bush finishes the season with a much lower GPA than last year (2.69) as was the case for most players on the roster. Statistically he was phenomenal. 9 carries for 70 yards, 5 catches for 55 yards and a punt return for 7 yards. He showed the kind of game he can put together if he gets the touches. Unfortunately, it wasn't all perfect as he dropped a easy pass in open field that could have yielded a big gain, and he dropped a pitch on a 3rd and 1 play that resulted in a huge loss. He still dances around too much at times, but overall I thought it was his best game of the season.
Julius Jones: D- (2.08) He fumbled on a goal line carry, which was inexcusable. That fumble ultimately cost the Saints the win, in my opinion. He had 4 carries for a whooping 6 yards, and 2 catches for 3 yards. He was useless. I hope he doesn't get snaps in the playoffs, because we're in deep trouble if he does.
Chris Ivory: B (2.83) Too bad he got hurt because he was running the ball with power and authority before he left the game. He had 33 yards on 7 carries, with his most notable run coming on an off guard play where he ran into star linebacker Barrett Ruud and just obliterated him. Ruud went backwards on his behind, and Ivory kept trucking. Talk about getting owned.
Heath Evans: B- (2.60) He did a good job blocking most of the day, with the exception of a terrible lead blocking job on the Meach-around. Yeah, I just said that. He also had a reception for 2 yards.
Lance Moore: B (2.90) Falling down on that pick was a really tough break. He did a great job moving the chains, though, and there's no doubt he'll be making plays in the playoffs. He had 6 catches for 53 yards.
Devery Henderson: D (2.04) His GPA was 2.77 last year, so this season was a major drop off. He was targeted 4 times and came up with no grabs. He and Brees are just not on the same page this year. At least two of those balls were difficult but makeable catches. He's just not making plays in traffic. He did an ok job on kick returns averaging 23.7 yards on 6 returns, but got blown up a few times.
Robert Meachem: D (2.38) His GPA was 3.02 last year, so this season was also a major drop off. He had 1 catch for 5 yards and a rushing attempt for -3 yards. A very poor game from him.
Adrian Arrington: B+ (3.33) He finished with 7 catches for 79 yards and he was by far the most productive receiver. I honestly don't know if Marques Colston will be ready in time for the playoff game next week. If not, Arrington could be a nice fill in. He proved he definitely has some ability.
Jimmy Graham: B (3.06) What a fantastic season by the rookie, who ends the year the highest graded offensive player (11 games graded). He got injured and never came back, but before he left he came up with a big third down conversion and a jumpball touchdown. He had 2 catches for 15 yards and a touchdown. I made the claim last week that he's the best red zone option right now for the Saints, and a few people disagreed with me. Still feel that way?
Tory Humphrey: D (1.00) He sucked. He's more of a blocking tight end and he was thrown into the fire trying to make a play in the passing game. Brees and Daniel both tried going his way, but he just didn't get any separation whatsoever and showed poor hands. He did get the Saints an illegal contact penalty, but that was it. Hopefully the three players ahead of him on the depth chart can come back next week.
Jermon Bushrod: C- (2.33) He struggled mightily in protection. As this season progresses I feel like he keeps getting worse. Not a good sign heading into the playoffs. He was responsible for the strip/sack. I just don't think passing non stop plays to his strengths, and he's been exposed the last few weeks because pass rushing ends are leaving running lanes knowing the run almost ever comes. Last year he finished with a 2.51, so his performance was worse than a year ago overall in my opinion.
Carl Nicks: B (2.81) He ends the year the best graded lineman on the Saints. He was flagged once but he was also a major part of the reason why the Saints ran for 106 yards and 4.8 per carry.
Jonathan Goodwin: A- (2.75) I thought his blocking was impeccable in this game. He was dominating in the trenches and getting tremendous push all day long.
Jahri Evans: B (2.77) He had a holding call but otherwise did a good job overall. Pass protection and run blocking from his spot were mostly very good.
Jon Stinchcomb: B- (2.50) He got flagged for holding and struggled at times in pass protection giving up pressure which forced Brees to step up in the pocket, but he was excellent in run blocking, laying some devastating lead blocks while pulling. Sadly, all 5 starting linemen received worse GPAs this year than they did last year.
Zach Strief: B- (2.33) It got pretty annoying hearing "number 64 is reporting eligible", because the Saints had lost so many tight ends to injury that Strief was in on almost every play. He was flagged once for a false start, but he blocked well off the edge. On Jones' goal line fumble, Strief had bad luck because his lead block was fantastic. He finished with a 2.31 last year, so he's one of the only offensive players that received a higher GPA this season... so there's that.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Reggie Bush