New Orleans Saints Offensive Player Grades vs. Bears

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints is brought down by Nick Roach #53 of the Chicago Bears at the Louisiana Superdome on September 18, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Bears 30-13. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Putting up 30 points on a defense like the Bears' is a solid output. After a down year last season, Brees is back to Super Bowl form. That should be incredibly comforting to all of us.

When the defense plays shockingly bad, the Saints still have a shot at the end of the game, and when they play well it's a blowout. That's been what I've taken from the first two games this season, anyway.

If the offense can keep this pace, we're in for a truly special season. Amazing when you consider the offense didn't miss a beat despite being without Marques Colston. The Saints have so many weapons they just continue to plug away regardless of who is in there. While Brees is the one constant, what makes these guys so exciting is that it's a different hero every week.

Make the jump for the grades!

Bears vs Saints coverage

Bears vs Saints recap

Bears vs Saints boxscore

Drew Brees: A (4.17) Once again Brees didn't turn the ball over and his QB rating was well over 100. Remember last year when he would turn the ball over every single week? Well, he hasn't done that a single time in two games so far. He's largely very careful with the ball while still making plays. That 79 yard toss to Henderson was picture perfect and it completely shifted the momentum in the game. Brees was an efficient 26 of 37 for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns. Besides that one big pass pass, I wouldn't say Brees was spectacular. Instead he was consistently safe and solid. That's how you're successful against that defense, though, so give him credit for staying without the game plan and having the patience to take what the Bears gave him. Still, the Saints are settling for field goals way too often. The offense needs to do a better job of finishing off these drives, but I'd put that mostly on the shoulders of the running game. 

 

Pierre Thomas: B- (3.00) Once again Thomas was fantastic finishing off his runs. The first man almost never brought him down and he did a great job of falling forward. This was another vintage performance by PT who looks to be in 2009 form. I'm not sure I fully understand why he plays so little, but my assumption is he has to be on a pitch count based on his injury history and his current recovery from ankle surgery. He once again did the most of his opportunities, gaining 41 yards on 9 carries. He also had 2 catches for 14 yards, but I docked his grade a bit due to two horrible drops. The first may not have gone far anyway, but it was a classic case of turning to run before you secure the football. Rookie mistake. The second drop was on an improv flare down the sideline where he left Brian Urlacher in the dust. If he catches that ball he's headed a long way and Brees put the ball where it need to be. No excuses, he needs to catch both of those balls. Still, overall, that's a second pretty encouraging performance in a row from him. 

Darren Sproles: B+ (3.67) He didn't quite live up to the performance against the Packers but I'm not sure that was going to be humanly possible. He's fairly easy to bring down in the open field because he's so small, but I still love the way he navigates through traffic and it's great that he just hits the hole full speed once he sees an opening. He was once again used frequently in the pass game ending with 8 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. The replay showed he actually stepped out of bounds on the 1 but the TD stood. Why is that? I thought every scoring play was reviewed? Way to fail, NFL. He also rushed 4 times for 17 yards. He also returned one kick for 24 returns and 2 punts for 1 yard. He called a whole lot of fair catches due to the Bears specifically trying to take him out of the game. Hey, the Bears are some of the best in the league at special teams, so there's no shame in him not breaking one this time. Give former LSU Tiger Craig Steltz credit on one of those punts, though, because if he doesn't make that tackle, Sproles turns upfield and that could have been a disaster for the Bears. Sproles also deserves credit for doing a very good job despite his size in pass blocking situations.

Mark Ingram: C (2.00) He had 14 carries for 51 yards, good for a 3.6 average. I did notice his ball security was suspect on a couple runs, and sure enough he lost a bad fumble late in the game. Luckily that had no impact on the game but he needs to clean that up. Most of his poor runs were the o-line's fault, and he ran hard and with passion. The guy clearly wants to do well badly and he's going to be a good football player. Still, he's yet to really show the league what he's capable of. 

Jed Collins: C (2.00) Much like the first game, it was a mixed bag from Collins. He had some great lead blocks as well as some poor ones. He's yet to look as good as he had in the preseason. The short yardarge running situations have been a problem.

Devery Henderson: A (4.00) I think Henderson's GPA this year is going to be a bit higher than last season. Hard to believe so many of you were calling for his head this offseason. And no, I wasn't one of them. Devery is off to a monstrous start his year. I criticized his speed last week and mentioned he's made up for it by becoming a more complete receiver, but he looked to have fantastic speed on that 79 yard touchdown. That was a 3rd and 12 play, by the way, and it gave the Saints a 7-3 lead. Maybe he hasn't lost a step just yet. That was a huge play that changed everything. He finished with just 3 catches, but for 103 yards and a touchdown. His final reception was a leaping grab where he absorbed contact and incredibly held on to a high throw to make the catch. That was arguably more impressive than his touchdown. This guy runs good routes, catches well, and blocks well. It really blows my mind how far he's come from his early days on the team. He really is a complete NFL receiver that the Saints are really fortunate to have. I cannot believe the improvement in his route running. The guy works very hard and he deserves to be commended. He's stepping up big time as a primary playmaker so far this season.

Robert Meachem: B- (3.00) A very weird game from Meachem. He had 4 catches for 10 yards and a touchdown. I gave him a little boost for scoring the TD, but I have to say, he twice had receptions where he shied from contact. The first one he went gingerly out of bounds when I felt like he could have turned upfield for more yards, and the second one was a screen pass where he was easily tackled at the line of scrimmage. I wish he'd be a little more physical. He also took a reverse for 7 yards before getting rocked out of bounds which of course wasn't flagged.

Lance Moore: C- (1.67) I wonder if the Saints rushed him back from that groin injury, but he had zero impact on the game. He did get open on a 10-15 yard out route but Brees was under pressure and the throw was slightly behind Moore and undercut for a breakup. I noticed Moore open a few times but Brees never went his way. He had one reception for 6 yards. You can't really give him a worse grade because he didn't screw up, but hopefully he'll get his legs back soon and get back to his playmaking ways.

Adrian Arrington: C- (1.67) Arrington had some snaps and I was hopeful he'd step in and make the most of this opportunity. He didn't. I thought the routes he ran were poor. On a slant route, he ran it poorly and cut it off short completely telegraphing his intent to the defender. The pass was broken up, and I felt like there could have been contact prior to the ball getting there and Arrington did a poor job of selling it to the refs. Some receivers are more demonstrative after a play like that and sometimes that works in getting the flag. He had one catch for 14 yards.

Jimmy Graham: B+ (3.17) He kept moving the chains and was Brees' most reliable target in the game. His blocking still needs work but it's not horrible, and he's only going to get better and better. The back shoulder throw to the end zone was more on Brees than Graham for being incomplete, but I would have liked to see Graham turn to the outside on that play. He had 6 catches for 79 and was crucial to the offense's ability to move the football.

David Thomas: D (1.17) He's kind of sucked so far this year. Is it just me or is Thomas completely incapable of breaking a tackle? I don't think I've ever seen him do that. He had 1 catch for 1 yard and was stopped dead in his tracks. He's a respected blocker but for the second straight game he hasn't impressed in that department either. On a screen pass that was well read by the Bears, too, he showed horrible awareness failing to locate the football which almost led to an interception. I'm not feeling to good about the Saints' depth at tight end lately.

Jermon Bushrod: C (2.34) He struggled both run blocking and pass blocking. I wouldn't say he made egregious mistakes that killed the team, but he wasn't impressive. His blocking on Ingram's run near the goal line in particular was awful. Still, he faced a stern test from a premiere defense and he held up ok overall.

Carl Nicks: B (2.67) He was called for a hold penalty which was the one negative. Otherwise, he seems to have an easier time in the trenches thanks to not facing off with B.J. Raji on every down. He got good push and was integral to the successful running plays the Saints had. His pass blocking was solid.

Olin Kreutz: C+ (2.00) Tough to grade Kreutz because he was pretty solid at times and light in the pads at others. On a sweep run by Ingram, Kreutz was completely blown up by Urlacher in the backfield to allow the play to get rocked for a loss. A linebacker shouldn't be pushing around a center like that. Still, I am impressed with his quickness off the edge and he is showing a nice ability on screen passes to pull and throw a lead block. On screen passes to both Sproles and Thomas on separate occasions, he threw fantastic blocks to get the play going.

Jahri Evans: B+ (3.00) First off, I want to note that he went an entire game without a false start or a holding penalty. The more of that we see this season, the better. I thought he was great. He opened good lanes for the runners and he did a great job finding Urlacher a few times and getting him out of the play. His pass blocking was largely impeccable.

Zach Strief: C+ (1.83) It was an improvement over his atrocious showing against Green Bay, but he was again slow on the play Brees got sacked and clearly responsible by getting beat off the edge. When he gets his hands on someone, he does well because of his size. His lateral movement or lack thereof still makes him the weak link on this line so far. His lead block on the touchdown pass to Darren Sproles was absolutely fantastic and gets him a grade boost. Give him credit there, that's as good of a block downfield as I've seen. I thought his performance in the run game was spotty, but acceptable.

 

My offensive player of the game: Drew Brees

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