New Orleans Saints Grades vs Falcons: Offense

Scott Cunningham

Drew Brees had the worst game of his career and he was graded accordingly. A pretty sick twist of fate that the offense picked this game to perform this poorly when the defense turned in their best performance of the season.

I'll spare you the long intro diatribe. The Saints scored 13 points, they turned the ball over five times and they failed to get points after having first and goal with about a minute left in the first half. Frankly it just wasn't anywhere close to good enough. A pretty sick twist of fate that the offense picked this game to perform this poorly when the defense turned in their best performance of the season.

***

Drew Brees: F (2.61) Normally I try to give reasoning for the grades as opposed to just pointing out stats, but the stats say it all: 28-50, 341 yards, 0 touchdowns, 5 interceptions. The clock management before halftime for me was even worse than any of the turnovers. This was the worst game of Drew Brees' career and this loss is squarely on his shoulders for playing one of the worst games I've seen from a Saints' QB since Heath Shuler.

Pierre Thomas: A- (3.00) In the second half the Saints finally committed to him after giving him just one touch 4 days ago and it paid off. He finished with 84 yards on 14 carries and added a catch for 5 yards. Honestly I thought he should have seen the ball even more. I maintain he's clearly the best running back the Saints have in their stable of talented players. Durability has been an issue in the past so I have zero problem with having him on a pitch count, especially early in the season, but there is no way this guy should have less than 10 touches in any game, ever. After this week he's got a clear lead in the GPA department over Brees and will likely end the year as my team's MVP.

Mark Ingram: C- (2.17) Give him credit for a short yardage conversion and his touchdown run, but this was otherwise a pretty atrocious running effort from Ingram. He got no push and at least at times it seemed to be his fault as he wasn't decisive enough hitting holes. He had 13 yards on 6 carries. He also had a reception for -1 yards that should have been a touchdown but he slipped on the play untouched. His miserable season continues.

Chris Ivory: D+ (2.87) He had 3 carries for 4 yards and tipped a flare pass right into the waiting arms of Sean Weatherspoon for an interception. He did have a nice physical 6 yard run, but he was also blown up behind the line a couple of times trying to bounce things outside. I thought he was punished a little unfairly on the pick because he didn't play hardly at all afterwards and it was a poor throw by Brees and a little bit of bad luck with the bounce. Still, Ivory's contribution when he was in was clearly very poor. I still think he's clearly better than Ingram, though, and from here on out I'd like to see only him and Thomas getting the majority of the carries.

Darren Sproles: B- (2.56) He finished with 5 catches for 47 yards and was valuable moving the chains in the passing game. At times he was covered well, though, and he dropped a couple of passes. He also added needed punch in the punt return game with an average of 15.5 yards per on 4 returns. He would have scored a touchdown if not for a stupid Graham penalty.

Jed Collins: C+ (2.78) He had 2 receptions for 2 yards, so not much of a help there. Blocking wise he was very good on delay handoffs to Pierre Thomas but he didn't get as good of a surge on smash mouth plays. His pass protection was good at times and a little sloppy at others.

Marques Colston: B- (2.61) He struggled to get separation throughout and two interceptions were deep ball targets to him where he perhaps could have gone up and disrupted the play. Still those throws are mostly on Brees. He did finished with 6 catches for 71 yards, many of those on critical third downs to move the chains. He also had a bad drop.

Lance Moore: B+ (2.91) He was the best Saints receiver on the day. He finished with 7 catches for 123 yards and made numerous fantastic plays downfield showing absurd hands and catching ability. He dropped arguably the easiest pass of them all, though, an easy touchdown pass in the end zone that hurt the Saints badly. That definitely effects his grade slightly due to it's importance. He's giving PT a run for his money as the best GPA by season's end on offense.

Devery Henderson: D- (2.09) I'm not going to fail him because Brees never really put him in a position to make plays, but Devery is just lost out there. He's not running his routes as hard and he was responsible for a horrible whiff on a block that led to Chris Ivory getting blown up in the backfield for a huge loss. He pretty much didn't do anything well in this game. After a decent midseason stretch he's reverted back to invisible, which we've seen at times in his career.

Joe Morgan: C+ (2.00) He had a terrific catch and absorbed contact well for a 38 yard gain, the longest pass play for the Saints in the contest. That was his only catch, though, and he failed to get enough separation on a couple of other deep balls despite one on one coverage. His blocking was good.

Jimmy Graham: C (2.39) To me he just jogs his routes. He looks lazy, unaware and while he didn't have any flat out drops he didn't come up with some contested balls either. His penalty that wiped out the Sproles touchdown was a timing block that was a little unlucky, but still a big mistake. He finished with 4 catches for 59 yards and did have some nice plays, though. As his GPA suggests, it's been a pretty poor season for him.

Michael Higgins: D (1.00) He didn't block well when he was in at all and he finished with 1 reception for -3 yards. So yeah...

Jermon Bushrod: C- (2.45) He had an up and down day against John Abraham. His run blocking was poor and he did a bad job cutting Abraham on a couple of plays which allowed the athletic defensive end to get up and tip passes. He did not allow a sack to him (the lone sack came against Strief when Abraham moved to the other side), but he did get Brees very pressured and hit a few times. He was also flagged for a false start that made a 3rd and 4 a 3rd and 9.

Ben Grubbs: B+ (2.75) He's now tied with Evans in the GPA department for the best offensive lineman so we'll see how these last four games play out. He was good in protection. He also pulled a number of times to create some devastating lead blocks. He and BDLP teamed up to give Thomas some massive holes on delay plays in the second half.

Brian de la Puente: A- (2.33) To me he was the Saints' best blocker on the day, particularly in the run game where he was physical and got terrific push. His pass protection was largely clean and correct, giving Brees a clean pocket with the enormous amount of edge pressure he was facing.

Jahri Evans: C (2.75) He had a false start and on one play in pass protection, he lazily allowed his man to get passed him thinking he had blocked him for enough time. It caused Brees to get hurried and hit because he was still holding on to the ball back there. He just needs to finish that play stay engaged, so that was poor awareness. Overall he had an up and down day by his high standard.

Zach Strief: D (2.00) I commend him for playing with an injury, especially given how depleted the Saints were at tackle, so I gave him a little boost for that, but his grade probably deserved worse. He just wasn't ready to play in this game. The lone sack he gave up where he showed the slowest lateral movement I've ever seen was bad, but he was also giving up edge pressure constantly. He did show a little physicality in the run game when he could get his hands on a player, though. He would leave the game with what appeared like a re-tweak of his groin. While he didn't give up a sack to Kroy Biermann he was consistently beat by him.

Eric Olsen: C- (1.84) Came in as en extra edge blocker but didn't offer much in terms of physicality which was disappointing.

William Robinson: D+ (1.50) He came in for Strief and was barely better. Pass blocking may not be his forte.

My Offensive Player of the Game: Pierre Thomas

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