What we saw Sunday was quite possibly the worst offensive performance of the Drew Brees era. The unit looked out of sync all game and hurt themselves by not making plays that were there to make. Protection was actually decent, as they did a good job limiting Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil for the most part. But every time a play was there to be made, a critical drop, a poor play call, an inaccurate pass, or a penalty seemed to set the team back. With that, I give you what is largely very disappointing grades.
Drew Brees: C- (2.67) He wasn't exactly helped by his teammates in this game, but he was afforded decent protection against an elite pass rushing team. He delivered some inaccurate balls, had his passes tipped at the line of scrimmage fairly regularly, and was victimized by drive killing drops consistently. Still, he was only able to orchestrate 7 points for his offense well into the 4th quarter. That's just not going to get it done, ever, with this defense. We've said it plenty, this team can't win this year with anything less than superhero Brees. Unfortunately he was mediocre in this one, so the result is a 20 point blowout loss. He finished 22 of 42 for 213 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and 2 runs for 2 yards.
Pierre Thomas: B (2.86) I can probably count about 5 players on the entire team that showed up to play in this game and Thomas was one of them. Surprisingly the Saints were very effective running the ball with him and it's too bad they didn't try more of it. He had 8 carries for 43 yards and he also had 2 catches for 6 yards. He had his customary toughness absorbing contact and was helping chipping in pass protection. With 1 game left till midseason he's the highest rated offensive player which means he's close to earning my midseason offensive MVP.
Mark Ingram: C (1.81) How can you really trash him that much in this game when he had 3 carries? It's almost like the Saints have given up on him. He had 7 yards. I just don't understand why they don't trot Chris Ivory out there if they've lost faith in Ingram? What a miserable season for the Saints' back. When he touched the ball I saw increased effort and he tried to run with purpose.
Darren Sproles: C+ (2.57) He was completely owned in the running game, shut down for -1 yards on 4 carries. Whenever he ran the Broncos were quick to recognize it and swarm into the backfield. Sproles, for as great as he is with quickness and hard cuts, has no chance breaking tackles. None. He did come up big in the passing game, finishing with 7 receptions for 56 yards, including a huge 29 yard touchdown which showcased his incredibly speed. That play was huge. His lone punt return went for -1 yards.
Jed Collins: B (2.29) He was actually solid lead blocking for Pierre Thomas much of the game, and did fine helping with chips the times he pass blocked. He didn't play much but offered good lead blocks when he was in.
Marques Colston: B- (2.57) He finished with 5 catches for 63 yards and was probably the more reliable Saints' receiver on the day. Still, he was targeted 10 times and didn't get much separation at all. He did a bad job keeping his feet in bounds on a crucial 3rd down play. He also had a nice reception and did a good job holding on to the football absorbing huge contact.
Devery Henderson: D (2.44) A miserable day for Henderson, who dropped a deep ball after having beat Champ Bailey vertically that would have given the offense huge momentum when it was still a ball game. He also got zero separation and was of no help. No receptions despite four targets.
Lance Moore: C- (2.72) He had 3 catches for a pedestrian 25 yards that did include one terrific grab, but a weak showing from the Saints' stud. He had a critical drop on the Saints' patented "2 point play" on a 3rd and 2 around the 50 which was a complete back breaker. The Saints make that first down and it could have been a completely different game. He has to come up with that ball.
Courtney Roby: B (3.17) To me he is the best blocker on the team as a receiver and he once again showed that with nice boxing out at the second level on running plays. It's odd to me that he was so good in the preseason at receiver, though, and has been no help whatsoever in that department during the regular season. He was targeted once on a low throw by Brees and almost came up with a circus catch which was ruled incomplete after review. He boosts his grade with a tackle and a downed punt at the 2 yard line on special teams. He left the game with an apparent shoulder injury.
Jimmy Graham: D+ (2.05) This offense has been nothing short of dysfunctional with Jimmy Graham in the game. They are just worse with him in the lineup this season. That shouldn't be the case. His lack of focus and concentration is just baffling. He dropped numerous passes yet again, two coming on big 3rd down plays that forced the Saints to punt. His catching ability this season has been atrocious. He also blocked poorly, ran sloppy routes, and just looked lazy and disinterested. Instead of using proper technique to secure balls, he went for a higher degree of difficult one handed grab too, which is just maddening. I will give him credit for at least not celebrating on a garbage time touchdown and looking distraught on the sidelines. At least he seems to care. He finished with 5 catches for 63 yards and a touchdown, so from a fantasy standpoint I'm sure he made his owners happy.
David Thomas: D+ (1.67) He's supposed to be a versatile tight end that can do a little bit of anything. Problem is, he didn't block particularly well and he was of no use in the passing game.
Jermon Bushrod: A (2.43) His best game of the season by far. He was beaten once on a sack but that play was negated by an offsides penalty. Beyond that, he had an impeccable day blocking Von Miller. He limited the star to just one tackle and was equally impressive in pass blocking and run blocking alike. Most of Pierre Thomas' good runs came thanks to his blocks and he showed hustle getting to the second level to end plays well and physically. He looked to be in Pro Bowl form and it was fantastic to see. A dominant performance against his toughest assignment to date.
Ben Grubbs: B+ (2.57) Like Bushrod he was solid in both duties. His protection in particular was good, as he seemed to roll over well to double, pick up blitzes and recognize the different looks the Broncos game him.
Brian de la Puente: C+ (2.05) He was good in pass blocking other than one glaring mistake. In run protection he was pushed back often and out muscled. A quiet performance with no major mistakes.
Jahri Evans: C+ (2.62) He was neither good nor bad, just a standard decent performance. The one major mistake was a killer holding penalty that set the Saints back and made a bad game worse.
Zach Strief: C- (2.19) He had an enormous amount of help to deal with Elvis Dumervil, and the result was 1 tackle for the star end. Still, he struggled mightily and looked slow getting beat around the edge. The good blocking of the rest of the line and Brees' pocket awareness prevented what could have been close to disaster numerous times. His worst play was an attempted screen where he completely whiffed on his block which resulted in the play getting hit for a big loss. He makes that block and it would have been a nice gain. He was physical in the run game at times but overall I thought he was mediocre.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Jermon Bushrod