The grades are finally back, though I wish I could have gotten started under better circumstances. Going back and watching the tape of the Saints and Redskins was at times reassuring and at times incredibly painful. Regardless of the manner, the Saints are 0-1 and they have to go into Carolina next week for what is in my opinion a "must win" game.
But I digress, below is my evaluation of the players in this game starting with offense. You'll see a letter grade which will evaluate their performance and a GPA which will be kept cumulatively throughout the season. I've missed doing this, my wife has not missed it at all, but I hope you enjoy it none the less. Make the jump for the grades!
Drew Brees: C (2.00) Not his best game by any means, but Drew was under constant pressure which didn't help. Protection was poor, which we'll get to, but it really forced Brees to get creative with how he escaped blitzes. I did see a lot of inaccurate throws by Brees, more than usual, as well as tipped passes at the line of scrimmage due to his slight height. Brees did make a ton of plays, but his astonishingly low completion percentage was incredibly out of character. The Saints were in a position to potentially tie the game, and that's when he threw his worst pass which was intercepted to seal the Saints' fate. He finished 24 of 52 for 339 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, one which was on the last play of the game on a Hail Mary. He can thank Darren Sproles for breaking up an interception and Brian Orakpo for dropping another right in his hands.
Mark Ingram: C+ (2.33) If you grade just on the stats, he finished with 6 carries for 15 yards which is not good and deserves a bad grade. But Ingram got too little reps and ran with good authority. He converted nicely on a third and 1 and did a good job of shedding initial contact. Too bad he never had a shot to play in this game.
Pierre Thomas: B- (2.67) Like Ingram he had almost no chance to show his worth, but did the most of his action. He had 4 carries for 17 yards and one reception for 12 yards. It's hard to grade him much higher when he doesn't contribute hardly anything, though. Like Ingram he did a good job getting yards after that first hit. He was also very solid in pass protection overall.
Darren Sproles: B (3.00) The Redskins did a phenomenal job of containing him overall. For some reason he never saw a single handoff other than a 2 point conversion play where he showed nice toughness to get in. He finished with 5 receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown, as well as 34.3 yards average on 3 kick returns and 7 yards average on 2 punt returns. I boosted his grade because for a little man his blitz pickups were flawless and he did a tremendous job blocking, and he save the Saints an interception by turning into a defender and making a terrific pass break up against Ryan Kerrigan. It's too bad the Saints didn't get him going a little more.
Jed Collins: C- (1.67) His blocking was subpar overall and his pass protection wasn't much better. He did do a decent job blocking two players on one pass play thanks to Brees escaping the pocket with his feet. He was targeted twice in the passing game but was nowhere near either ball.
Marques Colston: D (1.00) One of the worst games I've seen him play as a pro. He had two very bad drops and a bad fumble inside the Redskins' 5. He did not look ready to play to me, and I think his injury and lack of practice time all week messed with him. He looked gun shy and a little passive out there. He did finished with 4 catches for 71 yards but the timing between him and Brees was grossly off. He wasn't 100% and it showed.
Lance Moore: A- (3.67) Lance Moore was very quiet in the first half and struggled to secure tough catches and get his timing down early. Late in the game, though, he exploded out of nowhere to give the Saints some life and at least a fighting chance. The Redskins went into some form of soft coverage and had no answer for Moore. He finished with 6 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown as he was able to get behind Madieu Williams on a 4th down play for a long 33 yard score. That play was probably the highlight of the Saints' day.
Devery Henderson: C (2.00) We'll never know what contribution Henderson would've made in that second half flurry because he was knocked out cold on his lone reception of the game. He finished with a reception on a nice slant route that he secured nicely for an 11 yard gain. He was a willing blocker and consistently running deep to effectively draw defenders. Hopefully he's bad soon and doing ok, best wishes after what looked like a scary blow to the head.
Joe Morgan: F (0.00) I hate to fail a guy on the first grading of the season, but Morgan did nothing that could remotely be seen as positive. It's rare I give out A+'s or F's but this one called for it. Morgan had three balls thrown his way. The first was a sideline pass that was low and wide and while it would have been an incredible catch, we can't expect him to come up with that. He then dropped a pass right in his breadbasket 15 yards down the seam, and he dropped a touchdown pass from Brees where he had to go up against a defender to contend for the ball in the air. A receiver with decent hands makes that catch, Joe Morgan does not. He ran poor routes, had stone hands, and couldn't create separation. Hopefully he'll improve next week, but in this game he looked lost and far from an NFL caliber receiver. The kid got his chance with numerous reps and laid an egg. He just didn't show up.
Jimmy Graham: B+ (3.00) There were a couple of receptions he could have come up with that were close calls. The touchdown catch and the one hander in particular were vintage Graham. When he makes plays like that there is just nothing the other team can do. He did drop some balls, though, and he took some monster hits all game. He was also fortunate to be bailed out by the referee calling his forward progress stopped when he clearly fumbled. He finished with 6 catches for 85 yards and one touchdown.
David Thomas: C- (1.67) His job was to come in and block occasionally and he got flagged for holding. Thanks for nothing. He had one 5 yard reception near the goal line.
Jermon Bushrod: D (1.00) His blitz pickups were atrocious all game long and he was a nightmare matchup against Ryan Kerrigan. It was just one of those days for Bushrod. Whenever they would shift Orakpo to his side he wouldn't do much better. He was pushed off the line and beaten around the edge consistently.
Ben Grubbs: C+ (2.33) Grubbs looked solid overall and handled himself well both in passing and running plays. Unfortunately he was pushed back a couple of times and his man was able to get his hands up and tip Brees passes at least three times. He needs to do a better job of limiting that.
Brian de la Puente: D (1.00) He botched two snaps, once hitting Brees in the chest when Drew wasn't expecting it and another time on the slant to Devery where the ball didn't get into Brees' hands clean. His pass protection was a disaster. The interior pressure the Redskins were able to get stopped Brees from being able to step up in the pocket, which he normally loves. He was manhandled most of the day.
Jahri Evans: C (2.00) He was fine overall if you take away the false start and the holding call. The penalties just continuously shot the Saints in the foot. His pass blocking was acceptable.
Zach Strief: C+ (2.33) I thought he was by far the best Saints' blocker on the day, particularly in pass protection. Brian Orakpo had a tough time generating edge pressure against him which is a very good sign. Strief is playing well. Unfortunately for him, he docks his grade with two false start penalties and getting pushed around on running plays a bit.
My offensive player of the game: Lance Moore