The Saints were both efficient and balanced on offense in this game. 28 passes, 28 rushes. They passed for 229 at 8.2 yards per pass (thanks to 75% completions) and rushed for 153 yards at 5.5 yards a pop. The last few weeks they've gotten away from Brees throwing for 400+ yards in the interest of balance, and it's made them more explosive. This was another all around impressive showing. Make the jump for the grades.
Drew Brees: A (2.97) I can use one word to describe Brees: surgical. Despite taking more hits than usual, some of which were pretty fierce, the ball was almost always out on time and accurately. He finished 20-27 for 219 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He completed 74% of his passes and was incredibly efficient. The only throw he might want back was the deep ball to Cadet on the opening drive which was slightly underthrown. The intentional grounding penalty costs him the A+, but that's really just nitpicking – he was awesome.
Chase Daniel: B (3.00) Came in a ran the offense well in spot duty at the end. He executed a play action bootleg to perfection which went for 19 yards on a run, and his lone pass in the flat converted a third down to ice the game.
Pierre Thomas: A- (2.93) He had 30 yards on 5 carries and 28 yards on 3 receptions. He made the most of his touches and probably deserved to play more. He saw extensive action on special teams, blocking well, and his biggest play of the game won't show up on the stat sheet but he fell on Graham's fumble alertly to save a turnover.
Mark Ingram: B+ (2.27) It's so strange to see his transformation the last few weeks after how poorly he started the season, but once again he ran with purpose and determination. The only disappointment was a run that was stopped short on 3rd and 1, which is normally his calling card. It's clear the return of Joe Vitt, which put Aaron Kromer back with the offensive line, has had a very positive affect on Ingram's performance. He had 12 carries for 67 yards, and a beautiful 27 yard scamper for a score. He also had a reception for 1 yard as a safety valve while Brees was getting tackled. He was also flagged for offsides on a punt return. Weird to see him on special teams. I had him at A- if it wasn't for the penalties, but while the special teams flag was harmless, the taunting penalty was just stupid, pointing at the defender chasing him as he ran into the end zone. He needs to be smarter than that.
Chris Ivory: B- (3.45) He had a 25 yard run late to save what was otherwise a mediocre showing, where he got hit numerous times in the backfield. He finished with 37 yards on 8 carries. Another pretty good showing, though, and he still hasn't fumbled this season.
Travaris Cadet: B+ (2.44) Cadet made a fantastic sell on a low and short thrown ball by Brees on the opening drive. To me it looked like he got his hands under the ball, and I think he totally got robbed of a big play reception. He still contributed 2 receptions for 25 yards, though, and a dazzling 75 yard kickoff return. He also had a nice punt return negated by a penalty.
Jed Collins: B+ (2.73) He was mostly to blame for completely whiffing on a block that allowed Ingram to get stopped on that 3rd and 1 carry. Otherwise, he paved the way for the Saints' backs with numerous devastating lead blocks, none better than the one he threw on Ingram's touchdown run. He also added 2 receptions for 21 yards, including Daniel's lone pass where he physically destroyed his tackler to get a nice first down to ice the game. He's been playing extremely well lately.
Jimmy Graham: B- (2.48) He quietly had 6 catches for just 29 yards and a touchdown. The Saints mostly settled for getting him involved underneath and he didn't break tackles that well. He could have had a very costly fumble before halftime if Pierre Thomas didn't fall on top of it. He did a good job helping out Harris and was forced to block more to help the youngster out when Brown went down at right tackle, which meant less involvement in the passing game.
David Thomas: C+ (1.97) Played sparingly but blocked reasonably well while he was in.
Marques Colston: B (2.64) A quiet game for the quiet storm. He did have 4 catches for 69 yards, though, and he led the team in receiving yards. The only negative was a deep ball where he failed to get separation downfield and couldn't come up with a contested ball.
Devery Henderson: B- (2.33) He didn't contribute in the passing game with just one reception for three yards, but his blocking was positively outstanding. Go back and look at some of those blocks he threw. I'd argue that few receivers in the NFL block better. That box out on the flare pass to Cadet especially was really impressive and made that play work.
Lance Moore: B+ (2.89) He only had two receptions, but they went for 53 yards and 2 touchdowns. He did a fantastic job of getting behind the defenders on the first throw, which Brees placed perfectly despite significant pressure and a massive hit as he released the ball. The second score was good athleticism in traffic between two defenders. He made the most of his reps.
Joe Morgan: C+ (1.90) Like Henderson, he had no impact in the passing game other than one deep ball that went his way where he was completely covered. Also like Henderson, he blocked extremely well.
Jermon Bushrod: B+ (2.67) He gave up a little edge pressure, but was a mammoth blocking off the edge. The Saints consistently went behind him and he was incredibly physical in the trenches.
Ben Grubbs: A- (2.80) Physical in the trenches and largely clean in pass protection, Grubbs is different player thanCarl Nicks, but not necessarily much weaker. He's not quite as dominant physically, but he moves well, he has superior technique and he's getting more comfortable and reliable. Great pick up by the Saints this offseason.
Brian de la Puente: C+ (2.33) Brees didn't have as clean of a pocket to step into as usual and de la Puente struggled at times despite having a nice break of not having to deal with blocking an injured Richard Seymour. He was flagged for one holding penalty which looks deserved. Overall he had some nice physical push in the running game, though, and was up and down in pass protection.
Jahri Evans: B+ (2.87) Another stellar showing by Evans. He did get beat once in pass protection but was otherwise rock solid. His run blocking was very good.
Charles Brown: B+ (2.89) Another very impressive showing from Brown, who was borderline dominant, especially in pass protection. Hopefully his knee injury isn't serious because after two weeks I'm starting to wonder if he might be even better than Zach Strief at right tackle. I'm not ready to go that far, but his athleticism and quickness is impressive. Hopefully he's ok.
Eric Olsen: C (2.34) He played significant amounts again as the tackle eligible, or "jumbo tight end". He brought nice physicality but because he's an interior lineman he doesn't move as well laterally and he looked a little uncomfortable and slow out on the edge.
Bryce Harris: D+ (1.33) He was a disaster. The Saints ran away from him, fortunately, and gave him lots of help with Jimmy Graham to reduce the liability that he was, but if this guy needs to play an entire game it could go badly.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Drew Brees