Below are the player grades on offense for the game at Washington. You'll notice the passing game was largely exceptional, while the run game was largely lacking in performance. The letter grade represents the player's performance in the game and the GPA behind it represents the player's cumulative performance for the season.
Saints vs Redskins coverageDrew Brees: A (3.22) Brees was shaky at times, hanging on to the ball longer than we're accustomed to and having his height limitations more pronounced than usual with the batted passes, but overall Brees was once again masterful. He finished 35 of 49 for 419 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The minute Shaun Suisham missed that short field goal, there was almost no question Brees would go down and tie the game at 30. I have to give personal credit to my cousin, Chris, who proclaimed the second the field goal missed that the score would be 30-30 within minutes. The bottom line was on a day where the defense couldn't seem to do anything right, Brees somehow kept the Saints within striking distance, and he led them to victory in the closing moments.
Reggie Bush: C- (2.50) Bush had limited action in the game but had a satisfactory day as a receiver. He had 4 catches for 28 yards. Rushing wise, his lone carry was a 3rd and 1 run to the left side where he was hit for a no gain. I'm not sure why he would ever be used as a short yardage back. His punt returning was once again embarassing. He ran backwards, per usual, and lost 2 yards on his only return. Because of his antics a block in the back was also added to the play. At what point do the Saints decide that Bush is a terrible punt returner? I remember the Vikings game last year like everyone else, but a blind squirrel could look at his punt returns numbers on the year and realize it's time to look for a viable alternative.
Mike Bell: C- (2.77) Bell was mediocre, and was often stacked up in short yardage situations. Typically he's tough to bring down, but he went down all too easy in this game. He finished with 16 carries for 34 yards, for just a 2.1 yard average. He did a good job running the football in overtime, but that was about it.
Pierre Thomas: C+ (3.10) The Saints ran the screen pass to Thomas more times than I cared to remember. That play was the staple of the Saints' offense in this game. Thomas was effective wielding through blockers and tackles, finishing with 8 catches for 64 yards. Unfortunately, his rushing attempts weren't nearly as impressive, as he finished with 18 yards on 6 carries. Thomas does deserve credit for throwing some terrific blocks on blitz pickups to keep his quarterback clean. Ultimately, the Saints were incapable of running the ball all day and Thomas never really got going.
Marques Colston: B (2.92) Colston was pretty quiet, and he was targeted by Brees with no success in a tight window a couple of times (including once in the end zone). That said, his only two catches were crucial plays. His first was a nice route that resulted in an easy, wide open 40 yard touchdown catch. His second catch was a 6 yard out that converted an important 3rd and 5 in overtime. He was targeted too many times, though, to come up with just 2 catches. He didn't get open nearly enough, but given his 40 yard TD catch I couldn't give him an uglier grade.
Devery Henderson: B+ (3.05) Henderson was brutalized by bone crushing hits on a number of occasions, most times delivered by LSU product LaRon Landry. To his credit, he was able to hang on to two big first down conversions despite huge hits he was barely able to get up from. Henderson had one bad drop that was reminiscent of his inconsistent performances of the past, but otherwise he was a go to target when the Saints needed plays. He finished with 6 catches for 61 yards. It did look like he might have dropped one of those receptions, but the Redskins never challenged his reception.
Robert Meachem: A+ (3.20) Meachem was the Saints' offensive player of the game. No poll, no debate, period. He was THE reason the Saints won the game. He's quickly becoming the prime target for Brees and the most dangerous playmaker on the team. He had 8 catches for 142 yards, including a 53 yard touchdown reception with 1:19 left to tie the game at 30. Right before halftime he stripped Kareem Moore of the Redskins after an interception. Meachem was able to make one of the more head's up plays I've ever seen, recovering the fumble after jarring it lose and racing 40 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 17. That play was, in a word, unbelievable. He did not make one single mistake through the game, and he was reliable in his route running, catching, and ability to make plays throughout the game.
Jeremy Shockey: B (2.86) It was nice to see Shockey rebound after a few quiet games in succession. With the game on the line and the Saints down a couple of scores, Shockey was relied on heavily in the 2 minute offense. He was found in the middle of the field on numerous plays, and he showed soft hands. He had an offensive pass interference call that I never fully understood. He finished with 4 catches for 47 yards. Interesting to see him used sparingly on rushing plays.
David Thomas: B- (2.33) Thomas did a poor job as a lead blocker despite getting numerous reps out of the fullback position. He did a nice job receiving, though, finishing with 3 catches for 31 yards, including a nice route where he smoked a Washington linebacker for a 21 yard gain.
Jermon Bushrod: C- (2.67) Bushrod was bad. He did a horrendous job run blocking, and a number of the running plays that went behind him were blown up. Specifically, Bush's 3rd and 1 carry and a couple of Bell's 3rd and shorts were stuffed based on poor blocking by Bushrod. His pass blocking was only marginally better as he got Brees hit and pressured on a number of plays. Veteran Andre Carter made him look silly, especially early, on a number of running plays. Give him credit, though, for making the tackle downfield after the missed field goal in regulation by Garrett Hartley.
Zach Strief: D (2.30) Strief is supposed to be the blocking specialist in short yardage situations, and quite simply, whenever he came in the game the Saints were stuffed short of the yardage they needed.
Carl Nicks: C (3.06) Nicks had an up and down game. On any and every short yardage situation the Saints had, they went behind Nicks pulling. He whiffed twice on tacklers, allowing Bell to get stacked up in the backfield. He did a poor job specifically on an important 4th and 1, which turned the ball back over to the Skins with the Saints down 20-17. Nicks did have some nice blocks and decent pass protection, but overall he had his hands full with Albert Haynesworth. I realize Nicks faced one of the best in the business, but the bottom line is he was mostly dominated.
Jonathan Goodwin: C+ (3.14) Goodwin, per usual, did a nice job pulling on the Pierre Thomas screens to throw some nice lead blocks and give Thomas some real estate to run with. His pass protection was adequate, but the Saints often attacked the middle running the ball and Goodwin wasn't strong enough to push the point of attack. He didn't have a great day, but he was one of the better linemen on an otherwise lackluster performance by the Saints' blocking unit.
Jahri Evans: C (3.28) You all know how much I sing Evans' praise every week, but this was a forgettable performance. He was flagged for an ineligible man downfield call late in the game. A play that wasn't necessarily his fault as the play was a designed screen that Brees didn't get rid of fast enough. Evans was unable to assert his normally dominant technique and force. Despite the Saints continuously running to the right side and using Nick's pulling help, the sledding was tougher than ever. The few plays that worked running the ball were plays where the blocking broke down on the right side of the line, and a lane appeared cutting against the grain on the left side. Not a good sign.
Jon Stinchcomb: D+ (2.83) Stinchcomb was the weakest link against the Redskins on the offensive line. He was pushed around and bullied all day long. He wasn't able to accomplish much and he should have been flagged way more often than what he actually got. I did notice he was flagged for an illegal block in the back on what was a horrendous attempt on a 3rd and goal screen pass to Devery Henderson. His run blocking easily deserves an F. Do yourselves a favor and DO NOT watch the tape of his run blocking attempts. Play after play after play, he allows tremendous penetration. Pass blocking was marginally better.
Darnell Dinkins: D+ (1.87) When he came in, he blocked, and he blocked poorly.