Yet another dismal showing by the Saints' offense, which we've seen quite a bit of this year, especially recently. To me the most glaring issue was under the microscope and more visibly on display in this game in particular, but it's been the elephant in the room all season. We often ignore it because the team is doing well, and we conveniently hide behind the safety of a vastly improved defense and an all world quarterback… but the reality is this offensive line has been poor all season long. Some games worse than others, this one worst of all. On to the grades…
Drew Brees: D+ for the game (3.07 for the season) It's a harsh grade, especially when you consider how much pressure he was under. He was hit 11 times, sacked 4 times, and yet he's still standing. I want to acknowledge how durable he's been since 2006, especially this season, and that's a testament to how hard he works on his body with conditioning, stretching and nutrition. For a guy of his stature to stay healthy after games like this, it's clear he's doing something right. That said, this game unraveled before the offensive line did completely, and he played a huge hand in that. His first interception was mostly on Charles Brown, but he's normally so good at feeling pressure, especially form the edge, and he left himself exposed to getting drilled as he tried to go downfield on the first play. It was greedy, and sometimes it works and that time it led to a back breaking turnover. His interception into triple coverage in the end zone looking for Jimmy Graham was his worst pick of the season. Just an absolutely atrocious decision. As bad as they come. He also lost a fumble. Other than that his stats were ok: 39 of 56 for 393 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions. He also had a rushing touchdown. So many of those yards came in garbage time, though. The bottom line is he didn't take care of the football and was responsible for the team's three turnovers. That'll lead to a loss every time.
Pierre Thomas: C (2.83) It wasn't for lack of trying, but he just doesn't have the moves or cut speed to be an every down back. The Saints are moving away from Thomas being a specialty guy and relying on him too much. It's making the offense more one dimensional. I realize he needs to be in there for blocking purposes but if you're relying on him too much you're not forcing the defense to account for different looks. Different looks is what made the Sean Payton offense so difficult to stop in previous seasons. He had a very poor 8 carries for 21 yards. He did have 7 catches for 62 yards and continues to be an asset in the passing game.
Mark Ingram: B (2.07) I don't understand why he never saw the field. The few times he was in the Saints ran play action. He had one carry only for 5 yards, and actually made the most of his two receptions, breaking tackles and fighting hard for 39 yards. The effort and power were there, I would have loved to have seen him more involved. Maybe it was the matchup but he was not part of the game at all. I don't expect to see him much for the rest of the season honestly. This line just can't open holes on the ground.
Darren Sproles: C (2.69) He had 7 carries for 24 yards. The Saints went to the shotgun inside draw to him a few times and it never worked. He also had 8 catches for a measly 38 yards. The Rams did an excellent job of bottling him up.
Khiry Robinson: C (2.42) Just one carry for no yards at the goal line. He seemed to get in to me but the refs didn't give him the call. I'd love to see him get more of a chance.
Jed Collins: D+ (2.52) He had one target near the goal line and rookie Alec Ogletree read it perfectly and almost picked it off. Clearly someone knows what the Saints do near the goal line. The Saints had 61 yards on 20 carries, so that tells you all you need to know about how the blocking was in the run game.
Marques Colston: B+ (2.87) There was a couple of high balls, including one in the end zone just before half time that he could have had, but the jumps were mis-timed. I still think his athleticism isn't quite there this season, likely due to the lingering foot issue. He did contribute some nice plays, though, and seems to be playing better. He had 8 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Kenny Stills: B- (2.45) He was targeted four times and had 4 catches for 47 yards. He had a beautiful spin move after a reception that resulted in nice yardage after the catch. He hasn't been stretching the field much lately but he's making some plays.
Lance Moore: B- (2.15) He had 6 catches for 78 yards, but a lot of it came on that final drive. Lots of garbage time stat padding. Still, it was nice to see him involved as he's been way too quiet this season. He can thank Charles Brown for robbing him of a touchdown just before halftime.
Robert Meachem: D- (2.00) He was targeted once and didn't have a catch. I'm really starting to wonder why we bothered to bring him back.
Jimmy Graham: D (2.98) If you saw him try to block Chris Long on that one run with Sproles, you'd know why the Saints almost never even bother to line him at next to a tackle. Owned. He only had two receptions for 25 yards and was targeted on both interceptions. The Rams completely shut him down. A lot more harm than good in this one. Besides the Patriots game this was by far his biggest no show of the season.
Benjamin Watson: C+ (2.44) He actually did a decent job blocking at times and was better than most. He had 2 catches for 12 yards.
Charles Brown: F (2.14) Oh my God, he was horrible. Robert Quinn embarrassed him so badly, Sean Payton had to pull him. It wasn't just the routinely getting shoved aside and blown past for a sack, it was the back breaking penalties, the hits… you name it. It's clear to me that Charles Brown is not a starting left tackle quality player for a playoff team. He cannot block these elite pass rushers at all. He played a big part in the first interception, he was flagged a couple times, including once negating a touchdown to Lance Moore. He gave up 2 sacks but it felt like 20. The Saints made a mistake trusting him this season as the Jermon Bushrod replacement in my opinion. This game was his worst of the season by far. Sean Payton said it best when asked why he pulled him: "I had seen enough."
Ben Grubbs: C- (2.34) He continues to have a really sub standard season compared to what we saw last year. He wasn't any help to Brown as he struggled with Brockers himself. A few of those shotgun runs were stopped as he allowed backside pressure to catch up to him.
Brian de la Puente: D+ (2.24) Brees was not able to step up into too many clean pockets because of the middle pressure he allowed. To me he's been really poor this season.
Jahri Evans: C- (2.70) Most of the running went behind him and it had mixed results. He was also responsible for Brees getting sacked once. He did have some nice aggression in the trenches, and pushes runners forward doing a good job of finishing the play, but the bottom line is he did not get the job done.
Zach Strief: D (2.51) He wasn't much better than Brown on his side, honestly, dealing with Chris Long. Many times the Saints ran to the right side and the play went nowhere because Long gave Strief all he could handle. I have to say that end tandem is really good. Strief moved to left tackle once Brown was pulled and while he was constantly beat to the edge, Brees was mostly able to survive thanks to good pocket awareness. He was also penalized twice.
Bryce Harris: D (2.09) The few times he was in he was beaten line a drum. At one point the Saints tried to run a tackle eligible play to him at the goal line that was an utter joke. He didn't fare much better at right tackle once Brown was yanked.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Marques Colston