Saints Nation: Offensive Player Grades vs. Cowboys

When you break the NFL for most first downs in a game in NFL history, that probably means everyone played pretty well on your offensive unit. The Saints were able to get their 40th first down on a 4th down run to end the game (39 was the previous record). Enough can't be said for a top to bottom complete performance where everyone chipped in.

Drew Brees: A+ for the game (3.22 for the season) He was 34 for 41 for 392 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. It was one of the most flawless performances he's ever had, and that's saying something. I could write for days about what he did well in this game, suffice to say it was peak performance by one of the best to ever play.

Mark Ingram: A (1.92) Saying this was his best game of the season gives his performance no justice whatsoever. He could have rushed for 40 yards and we'd be saying that. He had 145 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Sure he added a bit of emotion that was over the top to the end of his runs, one that landed him a 5 yard delay of game penalty, but you could tell he was frustrated from the season. You could tell the negativity had got to him and he wanted to go out there and prove all his doubters wrong. And there's been many of them. But at least for one game he showed he can be a stud NFL running back. He also had 2 catches for 15 yards but had a drop that hit him right in stride. He ran with good intent and looked faster than he's looked in a while hitting the hole. He didn't have breakaway speed at the second level but he hit holes quickly and was physical. Good for him, he brought it.

Pierre Thomas: A (2.93) Vintage PT Cruiser performance where he continued to get the tough yards. The Saints owe him the first down record, too, because he got 5 yards plus a couple inches on a 4th and 5 run late to get it. That run was all effort and power. He had 87 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, and also added another touchdown receiving to with 24 yards on 7 catches.

Darren Sproles: B+ (2.79) He had a horrible fumble despite usually being so reliable with his hands muffing a punt return. That set up a 3-0 Cowboys lead. On the next drive, he comes up with a SICK blitz pickup on Brees' first touchdown pass to Colston that makes that play happen. At 5'6" I have to give him huge props for standing in there and protection his quarterback like so many big backs just can't do. He had 7 catches for 76 yards, none bigger than the 28 yard screen pass that helped him score with 5 seconds remaining in the half. Terrific speed there. He also had 5 carries for 12 yards and a nifty touchdown run inside. I really like him as a short yardage back because he's so slippery and hard to see. His returns were poor and he seemed to call fair catches after that fumble too much.

Jed Collins: A+ (2.67) The lead blocks he gave on the interior all night were just devastating. He brought some serious pain to Cowboy linebackers. By far the best game I've ever seen him play.

Marques Colston: A (2.71) Also in vintage form, it was just nice to see Colston making those big time 3rd and short plays where he moves the chains. He seemed to be feeling better as he broke tackles and used his frame well, too. He was short on one pass and he didn't get great separation at times but he did major damage in the first half. He had 7 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, and give him tons of credit on the score for dominating a tackler and he stretched for the end zone. Nice to have him back!

Lance Moore: B- (2.28) He had just one reception for 14 yards but it was a big one that converted a 3rd and 12 on a touchdown drive. Huge. Before Sproles' screen TD Brees tried for Moore deep and they came close to connecting in double coverage.

Kenny Stills: A- (2.63) He made plays here and there, but his 52 yard bomb for a touchdown was the major one. He did a great job there of just tracking the football and making a good catch, while making the defender look stupid. He continues to be a significant deep threat. He had 3 catches for 75 yards and the touchdown.

Robert Meachem: B (2.08) He had a 17 yard reception on a beautifully designed play action play over the middle. Otherwise he was used frequently when the Saints pounded the ball in the "I" and he blocked very well.

Nick Toon: C (1.60) He played sparingly and had some decent blocks. Brees didn't look his way but he was in on the party. Hard to grade him too bad when he was involved in something like this.

Jimmy Graham: B+ (3.19) He had 5 receptions for 59 yards on 5 targets. Nothing too special and he quietly gave the Saints his contribution. He did carry a tackler with him past the first down marker once going into beast mode and owning defensive backs once again. Brees just passed him GPA wise to be the highest on offense for the season.

Benjamin Watson: B- (2.48) He had one reception for 5 yards but drew a penalty on another target near the end zone. He was close to having a touchdown, too, but couldn't hang on as he was concussed on the way down. Otherwise did a good job blocking before he left.

Josh Hill: B- (2.11) Mostly in as a blocker, he did fine. He's turned out to be a really interesting prospect that no one expected.

Charles Brown: C (2.04) By far the weakest link on offense in this game. He gave up a sack and had an illegal use of the hands penalty and negated a 1st down catch by Colston just before Hartley's missed field goal. He also almost got Brees killed on the touchdown pass to Pierre Thomas, where Brees' hand seemed to get banged up. DeMarcus Ware gave him fits at far less than 100%. I cringe to think about how he'd do with someone of similar ability but healthy. All that said I can't hit him too hard with the grade because the offense scored 7 touchdowns and put up 600 yards + of offense.

Ben Grubbs: A (2.30) Finally a game worthy of the Ben Grubbs we saw last year, but also worthy of the contract he carries. Grubbs was physical, moved well, made no mistakes and pass blocked to perfection. This is something to build off of.

Brian de la Puente: A- (2.30) He had a holding call that docks his grade slightly. Otherwise, a dominant performance in the trenches. On both of Sproles' scores he had difference making blocks, with a textbook seal job on the run and a sick pull and pancake that sprung the screen free.

Jahri Evans: A+ (2.67) He was at his best. Pure and simple, just an incredible game by Evans. If you watched the game all over again and just watched Evans you'd be amazed and truly understand how valuable he is to this team. He just obliterated Dallas often all on his own. Most impressive was his ability to engage the first block, drag it to the second level and then engage a second player. So many of those 10+ runs were behind him and a function of him blocking two guys at two levels on the same play. He was awesome and he too had some devastating pulls on screens.

Zach Strief: B+ (2.79) I'm not going to gush all over him like the interior but it was a very clean and rock solid performance from Strief. More of the same we see each week from him.

Bryce Harris: B (2.39) On the final touchdown drive he played a good deal as the jumbo tight end and brought some nice size off the edge.


My Offensive Player of the Game; Drew Brees

Andrew Juge

About Andrew Juge

I like the Saints. A lot.

Saints Nation: Offensive Player Grades vs. Cowboys

Needless to say, these are a lot more fun to do after a win. If you’re still feeling bad, though, consider that you didn’t have to sit through re-watching the first three quarters of that game. Quite frankly the Saints deserved to lose that game.

Drew Brees: C- (3.17) It wasn’t all on him, but Brees just didn’t play that well. Granted, while he fumbled twice he was under constant pressure all day long. If not for his pocket presence and awareness he would have been sacked way more than 4 times. His interception was just a bad read and an even worse throw. He did not do a good job of making throws on third down. A subpar game for the Saints’ superstar, and his MVP push may have taken a hit. He made some nice throws late on the rally, but the Saints were in too big of a hole to climb out. He finished 29-45 for 298 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He rushed twice for 8 yards, lost two fumbles, and caught a batted pass of his before getting tackled for a 4 yard loss.

Reggie Bush: B- (2.61) Hard to give him a full grade because he left with an injury and didn’t return. Too bad, he was playing pretty well before he left. His one run was a beautiful 29 yard sprint down the left sideline. He also caught 2 passes for 17 yards, one of which had significant real estate if he hadn’t come up gimpy. Give him credit also for running forward on his lone punt return. Ultimately, he didn’t see enough action to make a difference.

Mike Bell: C+ (2.73) Bell never really got a chance to get going. He was stuffed on his first attempt. He had a couple of nice runs early in the 4th quarter, including a touchdown run, but he finished with just 8 yards on 4 carries. Not enough opportunity.

Pierre Thomas: C+ (3.05) Thomas was unusually quiet, other than a screen pass he took for 29 yards late. He never really got going in the running game, and the Saints abandoned it to catch up. He did a decent job as a security valve in the passing game. He had just 20 yards on 6 carries, and 50 yards on 5 receptions.

Marques Colston: B (2.95) Colston, to me, didn’t seem to get that open. He has great hands and a nice frame to make some impressive grabs, but I felt like he never got much separation from the Dallas defense. Fortunately, Brees went to him in tight windows and it seemed to work. He finished with a pretty decent game, 5 catches for 86 yards.

Lance Moore: B- (2.54) Again, hard to grade him because Brees never really looked his way and he didn’t play all that much. He filled in on punt return duties when Bush left, and got hit hard one where he should have called for a fair catch. Moore did get a touchdown on a screen pass, though, which also included nice blocking by Meachem and Colston. That was his lone catch, but it gave the Superdome new life as it brought the game within striking distance.

Devery Henderson: D+ (2.83) Henderson was covered by Mike Jenkins all night like a blanket. On the interception, Jenkins was step for step with him. There were several other plays where Brees would try to get Henderson involved and he was just not open. On a terribly underthrown ball by Brees in the end zone at one point, Henderson was covered but did a nice job adjusting to the pass. Unfortunately on that play, he dropped an easy touchdown catch. Devery Henderson and “drops” have been becoming all too synonymous lately. He finished with just 2 catches for 22 yards, but did a good job of breaking a tackle and getting out of bounds late to at least give the Saints a chance.

Robert Meachem: B- (3.17) 5 catches for 43 yards in the game. Nothing great, nothing terrible.

David Thomas: A- (2.47) Thomas was by far the most used weapon in the passing game. He stepped in for an injured Shockey and did a great job of showing soft hands and ability after the catch. He finished with an impressive 8 catches for 77 yards. Good thing I picked him up and started him in my fantasy league right as I heard Shockey was out for the game. Thomas also threw two monster lead blocks for Mike Bell on the first touchdown drive, and he also sprung the Reggie Bush run free with a nice seal. Shockey is a big part of what the Saints do, but I can’t really say there was any dropoff with Thomas in the game.

Jermon Bushrod: D- (2.54) I long considered giving him my second F of the season. He definitely deserves an F for his play, but I think Bushrod shows effort and he at least threw a beautiful block on Bush’s run. In pass protection, he was a disaster. Dallas finished with 4 sacks, all coming from the left side. One of those was on Pierre Thomas, but the fact that Anthony Spencer went twice to hit Brees untouched was inexcusable. Anytime DeMarcus Ware was in the game, he beat Bushrod like a red headed step child. If it wasn’t for Brees’ pocket awareness, Bushrod would have been responsible for many more atrocious offensive plays. As the NFL Network crew pointed out, his footwork and balance were terrible. Maybe it’s time to give Zach Strief another go. Whether it was using speed, power, or anything at all, Ware made Bushrod look like he was out of high school. Embarassing performance by the left tackle.

Carl Nicks: C (3.03) Nicks just didn’t get it done. He didn’t help Bushrod, he didn’t get his usual push in the running game, and his pass protection was nothing special. Granted, he never really got a chance to show what he could do in either situation because the Saints hardly ran the ball and Bushrod was getting beat much faster than anyone else on the line.

Jonathan Goodwin: B (3.17) Goodwin showed nice toughness bouncing back from an injury and he played overall pretty well. He made most of his assignments, create running lanes, and did a good job of letting Brees step up in the pocket with constant outside pressure.

Jahri Evans: C+ (3.24) Evans had a holding penalty and he didn’t have his best game in pass protection. At times he manhandled his man, but at others his play was average. Overall the whole line deserves criticism for the poor job running the ball and the horrendous job protecting Brees.

Jon Stinchcomb: C (2.81) Stinchcomb was fortunate to get an illegal contact call on the Cowboys on the same play that he was completely beat and allowed his man to sack Brees within about a second of the ball getting snapped. I’m not sure Stinchcomb even laid a finger on the defender on that play. He was beaten around the edge several times, but he was bailed out often by Brees’ feet and/or Bushrod’s superior awfulness.

My Offensive Player of the Game: David Thomas

Andrew Juge

About Andrew Juge

I like the Saints. A lot.