Saints vs. Panthers Player Grades: Offense

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It was clear that if serious weather conditions occured, the Saints would struggle to score against the Panthers. But before that ever happened, for the entire first half, the Saints could not move the football. The offense ended up with 13 points, 6 sacks given up, and two killer turnovers. You just can't win on the road playing like that... and yet the Saints almost did.

Drew Brees: D+ (2.96) Part of me wants to give him an F for directing the offense to 13 points. But then how can I really blame him for this, the offensive line game him zero time? Then again, I do think there were times where he needed to get the ball out faster than he did. He took the Saints out of field goal range at least twice by taking sacks instead of maybe throwing the ball away. Every point mattered in this game. He was 30 for 44 for 281 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions and had a scramble for 9 yards. On both picks he could have done better. With the conditions being so atrocious in the second half, he did put together a magical 97 yard drive to give the Saints what should have been the go ahead touchdown. But the bottom line is he's the $100 million man and what he turned in just wasn't good enough.

Mark Ingram: B+ (2.20) He had 13 carries for 83 yards and the Panthers couldn't really stop him at all other than the final drive. He didn't see the football nearly enough. He ran with purpose and physicality and for once actually looked like the back the Saints were hoping they'd get when they traded up in the 1st round to get him. He also had a 7 yard reception.

Khiry Robinson: C+ (2.41) He only had 18 yards on 6 carries but he ran pretty well in spot duty for Ingram. Another guy I would have liked to have seen gotten more run in this game.

Pierre Thomas: D- (2.69) He had 4 carries for 8 yards and 5 catches for 7 yards. That's 9 touches for 15 yards. Carolina just owned him. The screen just wasn't happening, at all, and his lack of speed around the edge made the sweep calls puzzling. He also completely blew a blitz pickup assignment which gave Captain Munnerlyn an easy sack.

Darren Sproles: C- (2.62) He wasn't really used in this game as a piece. He had 1 carry for 2 yards and 3 catches for 18 yards. He also continues to be disappointing as a returner this season.

Jed Collins: B- (2.53) He had 3 carries for 8 yards, with a couple big time 3rd and short conversions. He also had 2 catches for 3 yards. He had a pretty good game blocking. It's too bad the Saints didn't use him more.

Marques Colston: B- (2.86) He had 5 catches for 63 yards, but Brees forced the ball a little too much to him at times. He didn't always get great separation but he made plays here and there.

Kenny Stills: C (2.42) He had 2 catches for 23 yards, including one pass where he went up very high to secure a beautiful grab. He also had a run for 3 yards. He mistimed a deep ball, too, where he should have kept running instead of jumping.

Lance Moore: C (2.14) Stop me if you've heard this before: he put up most of his stats in garbage time. He had 3 catches for 47 yards, but two were on the final hail mary drive. He did draw a pass interference/facemask. But another game where he just didn't really make an impact.

Robert Meachem: D+ (1.95) He had 2 catches for 14 yards and an end around that went for -5. He had no chance on the run and both catches were thanks to the corner playing way off him. Would Nick Toon really be any worse? Nevermind, don't answer that.

Jimmy Graham: B (2.98) I was all set to give him a bad grade, then he carried the Saints on his back on that 97 yard drive to give them the 13-10 lead. I really felt like that drive was somehow miraculously going to save the Saints' season. That was the kind of divine intervention that you think about later in the season and remember as something that helped make the season special when it was in doubt. Instead it just made the end more painful. He had 5 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, but the Panthers overall did a terrific job containing him besides that one drive.

Benjamin Watson: B- (2.45) Decent blocking, and decent as a receiving option. He had 2 catches for 26 yards. Frankly I think Brees should look his way more.

Terron Armstead: D- (0.67) I'm not going to fail him because he was better in the second half and seemed to improve as the game wore on, but the decision to start him was a poor one. Clearly he was in way over his head and simply not ready. He gave up 3 sacks to Greg Hardy and a litany of hits, and he had two false starts. Most of his mistakes were in the first half, this despite tons of chips and help. Frankly I'm not sure how we could have expected any better.

Ben Grubbs: C (2.31) He got crossed up a bit with Armstead on a couple of stunts but the lack of communication was almost assuredly on the rookie. Almost all of the successful runs were on the right side and his pulls on screens didn't accomplish much. He had an ok day in pass protection.

Brian de la Puente: C+ (2.25) A decent game in the trenches, but again the screen pulls left a lot to be desired. There's no question the weak link on the line was Armstead. BDLP did have some nice interior blocks on Ingram's runs.

Jahri Evans: B+ (2.67) By far and away the best lineman on the day. All the good runs were behind him and he finished plays off with his usual mean streak. His pass protection was good, too. It was fun to see him give Star Lotulelei all he could handle.

Zach Strief: B+ (2.57) He held Charles Johnson to just 1 tackle, so I'd say he did an excellent job. The only thing is Hardy got to Brees so much faster, maybe Johnson could've done more if Armstead wasn't a dumpster fire! Seriously though, he didn't get the push that Evans got in the run game but his pass protection was good.

Bryce Harris: C (2.08) I was surprised to see him play as the jumbo tight end over Charles Brown. He didn't bring much to the equation.

Offensive Player of the Game: Mark Ingram

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