Late in the first half we saw just how scary the Saints can be when they are firing on all cylinders. I wasn't thrilled with the play calling in the second half, which was conservative. Right now this defense is just too bad to milk the clock. The Saints need to be going for the kill every time. We almost had a repeat of the Chiefs game because of that.
That said, a win is a win and at this point we can't be picky enough as fans to hope for style points. Anyway this team can get a W should be satisfactory.
Drew Brees: A- (2.84) His stats at halftime were ungodly with four touchdown passes and 313 yards. That said, he ended with 377 yards passing and 4 TD's, so the second half was disappointing even though he did orchestrate a crucial 95 yard touchdown drive. He finished 27 for 37 for 377 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also had a scramble for 1 yard. He was accurate and benefited from outstanding protection for a change. He was never sacked or even knocked down in the entire game. He was quick getting rid of the ball and almost always found the right receiver. The interception was based on an unlucky tip, but I'm so sick of seeing Ronde Barber make plays on the Saints. I would have preferred a better second half from him but he did enough to get the win and is back to his peak level performance.
Mark Ingram: C (1.78) He had 7 carries for 21 yards, which shockingly improves his yards per carry average. He did a decent job in short yardage situations for the most part, but really struggled running on 1st and 10 once again. He once allowed the grass to basically tackle him. At some point the Saints need to try Chris Ivory because Ingram just isn't working out. Another subpar game, but he showed some decent effort late. I think the Saints made a mistake late in the game not trusting him on a couple third and shorts when he delivered for them earlier on previous plays.
Darren Sproles: B (2.61) A somewhat quiet day for Sproles. He had 5 carries for a useful 27 yards, 4 receptions for 32 yards and a crucial touchdown where he showed nice toughness absorbing contact around the goal line to squirt in. He had a 15 yard punt return and never had a chance to take out a kickoff return.
Pierre Thomas: B (2.83) I'm surprised to say the Saints never got Thomas involved in the passing game but he was used to help in protection often and did an extremely good job in that department. He was also the primary runner, leading the team in carries (13) and rushing yards (32). He had a rare rushing touchdown. His yards per carry were poor but that's misleading because he was hit twice for big losses on runs where he had no chance. Besides those two plays he ran very hard and did a good job falling forward and fighting as usual.
Jed Collins: C (2.17) He played more with Jimmy Graham not available and threw off the Bucs by being part of numerous shotgun formations. This helped pass protection as well. His run blocking was ok but the bottom line is the Saints ran for 3.1 yards a carry. Not good enough. He had a 1 yard reception.
David Thomas: B- (1.72) Hard to grade the Saints tight end because he had a massively important 20 yard touchdown reception before halftime. He gets extra points for also doing a ridiculous finger roll touchdown celebration in honor of Jimmy Graham. Comedic gold right there. He finished with 2 catches for 27 yards but had a bad drop that could have made a Garrett Hartley 51 yard field goal attempt 5-6 yards shorter. Granted, that field goal would never come as the Bucs would bail out the Saints. Later on that drive he had an illegal formation penalty with just a stupid failure to pay attention. The touchdown was big though, really big.
Daniel Graham: C (1.78) Mostly used as a blocker, he had no contribution whatsoever to the passing game. Don't you just get a feeling a goal line touchdown reception is coming soon? He was fine blocking, nothing special, but didn't get enough push in the run game.
Marques Colston: A- (2.56) The only negative with Colston I would say were two third down targets where he got almost no separation and wasn't able to come up with contested balls that forced the Saints to punt. Besides that, he came up with numerous big receptions, none bigger than his touchdown where he did a good job finding the goal line. He had 7 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. His GPA is really soaring considering he had a 1.33 after three games.
Lance Moore: A (2.93) What a sick performance by Moore, who clearly showed no signs of struggles from the injury that kept him out of the Chargers game. For now he is the highest graded offensive player through 6 games. He continually found the soft spot in zones and came up with some huge receptions, showing off ridiculous hands. He finished with 9 receptions for 121 yards.
Devery Henderson: B+ (2.73) This was a classic Devery Henderson game. He kept the defense honest by burning them a couple times over the top, and it kept them honest enough to stretch the field and open up things underneath. He finished with 3 catches for a precious 73 yards. I have to say, since his return from the Redskins knocking him senseless, the former LSU star has been consistently really good.
Joe Morgan: B+ (1.80) That one reception, which went 48 yards for a touchdown, was absurd. He showed off his speed getting behind the defense, caught a slightly underthrown ball, and somehow didn't go down as a tackler tried to wrestle him to the ground. He showed great athleticism to spin without having his knee hit the ground and stretching out to get the 6 points. Unbelievable play, one of the best this year. The Saints tried to hit him another time deep in double coverage where he had a step and while that play was a very difficult catch it was one he could have come up with. Still, his touchdown was huge. He left the game with a chest injury that necessitated a hospital visit, but is apparently ok. I hope he continues to play because his field stretching ability alone is an asset.
Courtney Roby: B- (3.20) He didn't get involved in the passing game, but showed off his blocking skills on numerous plays he was in. Roby is a great blocker off the edge and seems like the best of the core to me. Not surprising considering his special teams prowess. That said, he was a non factor on special teams and he cost his team a timeout early with confusion on a play call. Still, terrific blocking by the special teams ace.
Jermon Bushrod: B- (2.17) Give him credit first of all for chasing down Ronde Barber out of bounds on that interception. His protection by and large was solid. He made some mistakes in run blocking that led to a couple tackles for losses but the effort was there till the end of the play.
Ben Grubbs: C+ (2.44) He negated a nice Pierre Thomas run with a holding call. He was one of the better run blockers, pulling nicely a couple times on Darren Sproles edge plays.
Brian de la Puente: B (2.00) A quietly solid performance from the center who is starting to come into his own. He doesn't get the kind of physical push we're used to from Jonathan Goodwin, who by the way is grading out as the top center in the NFL at the moment. I watched him play Thursday and he's really playing the best football of his career. He was always amazing pulling on screens, but now Goodwin is really knocking people off the ball. Anyway, back to BDLP, he showed good technique and recognized a disguised blitz well.
Jahri Evans: A- (2.67) When the Saints needed a tough yard, they went behind him and usually got it. He was physical at the point of attack and he was outstanding in pass protection. He rolled over numerous times to lend a hand to Strief and had the interior on lockdown.
Zach Strief: B- (2.28) He benefited from a lot of double teams and chips, so he wasn't left out on an island like Bushrod, but he also did a good job. Michael Bennett is a handful and he kept him in check most of the game. His run blocking was average.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Lance Moore