Well, I think it's fair to say that was the worst offensive performance of the season to this point. The Saints combined their lowest point total (20) with their highest turnover total (4) in one game this season. That's not typically going to yield much success against any opponent.
The lack of success can be summarized in many ways: sloppy play, risky passes, poor blocking, no success running the ball, ugh, I think it's time to stop. I don't know how much of this I can stomach but for better or for worse, here are the grades.
Drew Brees: C (3.33) To be honest, for me it was less about the numbers and actual interceptions he threw. I don't really fault him on any of those three. The first is a ball Meachem needs to catch, the second was a terrific play by the defender and that's a throw Drew makes and completes all the time, and the third was a desperation pass on a 4th down play. I don't have a huge issue with any of those. What I did have issue with is many of Brees' near interceptions. He threw a number of passes in places that made little sense, and took uncharacteristic risks I'm not used to seeing. There were 3 to 4 passes that should have been interceptions that Brees was fortunate didn't end up that way. So while his three picks were forgivable, it's the passes that should have been picks that weren't. Once again Brees gave his chance a team to win at the end, but this time he failed. It happens and he's human. That said, he needs to get guys not named Sproles or Graham more involved and he needs to correct the woeful red zone performance that has plagued this unit throughout the first six games. He finished 29 of 45 for 383 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. He actually ran more than usual with 3 carries for 21 yards.
Mark Ingram: C+ (2.50) His 12 yard touchdown run was sick. Absolutely sick. And what a great inside cut move to make a would be tackler in traffic miss. Everything in between was pedestrian as usual. I'm starting to get over Ingram a little bit. He's a hard runner, he's going to be a good player (I think) and I like what I've seen from him at times... nothing he's done yet has been mind blowing at all, though. He's been solidly serviceable throughout, and never amazing. I'd rather be watching Chris Ivory until that changes. He had 9 carries for just 22 yards and a catch for 6 yards.
Pierre Thomas: D (2.72) To this point he's been without fault but that all changed in a hurry. He coughed up a bad fumble early in the ballgame that took the wind out of the Saints' sails and donated a 3-0 lead to the Bucs. He had zero impact on the game and was close to completely useless. He had 7 carries for just 11 yards and a reception for 5 yards. That was one of the worst performances of his career.
Darren Sproles: C (3.39) He caught a lot of passes but Tampa was ready for it and they knew how to keep him in front of them. His inability to break tackles is predictable but frustrating. He finished with 8 receptions for just 46 yards. His lone carry was a big 16 yard toss play, and of course he never saw another carry. Nice play calling there. He was very poor on returns with a 23 yard average off three kickoff returns, including getting short of the 20 twice, and a Reggie Bush moment on a punt return where he ran backwards and killed any chance at good field position with an 11 yard loss on a return. Miserable.
Jed Collins: B- (2.83) His lead block on the Mark Ingram touchdown run was AMAZING. If you re-watch any part of that game watch that one play and turn it off. It was a devastating block and you just knew the play was going for a touchdown once he opened up that gap. The lack of success in the running game wasn't his fault and I thought he played hard. He also showed good hands on a 3 yard reception.
Jimmy Graham: A- (3.39) Another 100+ yard performance for Graham as this time he finished with 7 catches for 124 yards. He's a superstar, no doubt about it, but he's got to start delivering more in short yardage situations near the red zone. His blocking was mediocre and he also dropped a critical pass. You can't argue with his playmaking ability in the vertical passing game though. The guy is a baller. Ronde Barber could not stop his combination of size and athleticism. He was no match. Overall Graham was outstanding again showing great hands, speed and power. I love how he absorbs hits too.
John Gilmore: D (1.75) The most memorable play for me with Gilmore was a handoff to Ingram where he got embarrassingly blown up in the backfield by Michael Bennett which ultimately led to a 5 yard loss on a running play. I'm sorry but this guy clearly wasn't brought in to receive passes, so if he can't even block can he be released immediately? I know the Saints have been working a lot of tight ends out lately. How they all seem more terrible than Gilmore is beyond me.
Marques Colston: A (2.67) He finished with 7 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. He made tough catches in traffic, took hits, and did his thing out there. It's nice to see Colston bounce back and have a really strong game. No complaints about his effort.
Lance Moore: B- (2.80) He only had two catches but came up with a huge 40 yarder down the sideline to give the Saints new life. He finished with just 2 catches for 46 yards. That's too bad because in a Tampa two scheme where Brees saw so much zone, I figured a guy like Moore who runs good routes and has great ability to find the soft spot in coverage would get more plays.
Robert Meachem: D+ (2.50) Meachem had just one catch for 23 yards but it was a big one to covert a 3rd and 12 late in the game. That catch would give the Saints a chance to march down the field and try to win the game. His only other target was a ball that went right through his hands and into the hands of a Tampa defender. That was a very costly turnover.
Devery Henderson: C- (2.67) His lone catch was a terrific play where he showed great hands and toughness on a slant route and almost broke free. That was it though, just one catch for 12 yards. He's back to being an afterthought in the offense after getting off to a fast start this season. His calf still seems to be bothering him.
Jermon Bushrod: B (2.61) He threw a nice block on one of the few successful Saints' runs of the day, a 16 yard sleep to the left side. Bushrod battled a lot of pressure from the left side, especially once it was clear the Saints were throwing every play (45 to 20 pass to run ratio isn't going to cut it Sean). Still, he held his own and only got Brees hit once. I've been ok with Bushrod's play so far this season. One of the few bright spots.
Carl Nicks: C- (2.61) Very disappointing showing by Nicks. He was bullied in the trenches and the Saints continually tried to go behind him on the interior. He just couldn't get it going and get the push he normally gets. Take away Brees' scrambles and Sproles' one run and the Saints had 33 yards on 16 carries. Just over 2 yards per carry. Nicks was a big part of that. His pass blocking was fine.
Olin Kreutz: D (1.67) At what point do the Saints give up on this guy as a washed up has been? He was flagged for a back breaking hold call that called back a 17 yard pass to Sproles. Beyond that, he gets no push whatsoever on the interior and he's often being pushed backwards. The poor interior run was as much due to his leaky blocking as anything. Another very poor showing and I just don't know how many more he can afford before the Saints turn to Brian de la Puente full time.
Jahri Evans: B+ (3.28) Once again he was the stabilizing force along the line. Fantastic in pass blocking throughout the game, and somewhat solid in run blocking. The touchdown run by Ingram was behind him, as was a 3rd and short play. Those were two of the very few successful run plays the Saints had on the day. For as bad as the line has been as a unit, I really feel Evans' has been the one shining star consistently. Really nice to see him playing at that level once again.
Charles Brown: D (2.33) I'm beginning to see why the Saints never bought into him being "ready" as a left tackle or even a starting right tackle. I think it has less to do with ability and more to do with poise. My biggest wonder at this point is if he has it all upstairs. He was abused on running plays so that wasn't encouraging, but he had two penalties again in this one, another false start and an illegal formation penalty because he wasn't up on the line. Brown is quickly becoming the king of false starts. He's always good for at least one a game. His pass blocking was probably the least strong of the unit, although at times it looked like he was strong and quick laterally. Overall he's just not up to snuff right now.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Marques Colston
Who was your offensive player of the game?
Drew Brees (4 votes)
Jimmy Graham (113 votes)
Marques Colston (116 votes)
Not the offensive line, that's for sure (122 votes)
355 total votes