The Saints' offensive performance was full of ups and downs, and while there were a lot of nice things there's also a lot to work on. Because of this there's a lot of ups and downs in terms of the grading. To be honest I didn't really feel like anyone on the team player amazing, or even very good, but most were above average. I think we'll see many games where the offense performs better this season, but they got the job done this week to win against a team that was 13-3 last year, so I'll take it. That said, 2.7 yards per carry is not going to cut it.
Drew Brees: B (3.00) A statistically good game for Brees, though by his standard you may consider it average. He was 26 of 35 for 357 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He was fortunate not to be intercepted another time and he under threw a couple of deep balls to Stills that could've blown the game wide open. He saw a good deal of pressure and handled it well and even scrambled for 4 yards once making a good decision. It definitely wasn't his best day but he did enough to win the game.
Mark Ingram: D- (0.67) A horrible performance by the Saints' back. He had 9 carries for 11 yards. He was stuffed for a 4th and inches run but again, I blame that on the blocking. Otherwise, he tried way too often to bounce runs to the outside a la Reggie Bush, minus the moves and speed. He did not hit the hole with authority, nor did he make decisive cuts. One of his worst performances as a Saint.
Darren Sproles: B (3.00) I was surprised how much the Saints leaned on Sproles in the running game, despite the lack of effectiveness it provided. He had 22 yards on 8 carries, most of which came in between the tackles. He was also completely neutralized on returns with a kickoff for 23 yards and 4 punts for a measly 7 yards. The impact he made in the passing game was instrumental, though, as he gave the Saints a nice balance of security underneath, explosiveness downfield and chain moving ability. 6 cathes for 88 yards and the Saints needed every bit. That one catch down the sideline in particular was crazy good.
Pierre Thomas: B- (2.67) PT cruiser gave a steady, quiet and workmanlike performance for the team, but it wasn't his best game either. He was, by far, the best runner in between the tackles but that's not saying much. He had 9 carries for 43 yards and 4 catches for 16 yards.
Jed Collins: C- (1.67) When your primary job is to spring the run game and they get 78 yards on 29 attempts, that's not good. Collins did have some ok blocks and I blame this mostly on the initial push by the line, but Collins wasn't special by any means.
Marques Colston: B (3.00) He was covered well and struggled to get much separation for most of the game. To me he didn't seem to move at 100% with the foot injury. The main play he made was an absurd 31 yard touchdown catch in tight coverage. He did move the chains and absorb huge hits, though. He had 5 catches for 68 yards and the touchdown. On the interception, it was a 50-50 ball that he should have had but Robert Alford ripped it away from him. That play was Brees trusting Colston in a tight window against a smaller corner where despite tight coverage he usually comes away with the ball, disappointing not to see him win that battle there. Still, the touchdown was a major play in the game. It also put him alone as the receiver with the most touchdowns in franchise history.
Lance Moore: C- (1.67) He was targeted four times and had just 2 catches for 23 yards. A surprisingly quiet day for Moore due to the fact that he was blanketed all day and struggled to find soft spots in coverage, something he's normally so good at.
Kenny Stills: B+ (3.33) His contribution was just 2 catches for 86 yards, 67 coming on one, but he continually stretched the field and did what Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem (and Joe Morgan) were able to do in their prime to open things up underneath for the offense. Twice he was open deep but underthrown by Brees. Too bad, because he could have had a monster statistical day. In the end he performed in line with what was asked of him, and he's going to continue getting better.
Jimmy Graham: B- (2.67) He was up and down in the passing game, and struggled with blocking. He didn't get good separation and didn't adjust his body well to a couple catchable balls. He did break a tackle and show tremendous athleticism to get into the end zone, though, and finished with 4 catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. He will have much better games this season.
Benjamin Watson: B (2.67) He gave the Saints a nice wrinkle in the offense and while he wasn't a huge danger to the Falcons he gave the team another threat in the passing game. His blocking wasn't called on that much. He had 3 catches for 31 yards and showed reliable hands.
Charles Brown: C- (1.67) He was beat around the edge numerous times, but Brees' pocket awareness kept his performance for being more of a disaster than it could have been. Osi Umenyiora gave him pressure off the edge and beat him once to give Brees a pretty good lick. His run blocking was mediocre, and area I thought he might have an advantage in in this game. He was also flagged once for holding.
Ben Grubbs: C- (1.67) A disappointing performance and one of the worst games I've seen out of Grubbs as a Saint, normally so reliable. He really struggled to get much push against the more physical Corey Peters. He was beaten for a sack and gave up huge penetration to allow a run play to get blown up.
Brian de la Puente: C+ (2.33) He got some push on running plays against a very tough Jonathan Babineaux, and seemed to have a clean game blocking for Brees, but again it was nothing spectacular. I viewed him as being slightly better than the rest.
Jahri Evans: C- (1.67) Back to back holding penalties by Evans butchered any chance at a 1st and goal becoming six points. He had his hands full with Babineaux and while his pass blocking was largely good, he got no push in the run game. The Saints tried to run behind him on most of the key plays with little success.
Zach Strief: C+ (2.33) Like De la Puente he wasn't spectacular but at least he limited the mistakes. There were a couple of plays were he got pushed back far into the backfield, but otherwise he was able to neutralize his man. Kroy Biermann is a tough guy to block, but he was active and made a lot of plays around the field, particularly against the run. Strief's pass blocking was quite good, though.
Bryce Harris: C- (1.67) With limited reps on the edge as a jumbo tight end he didn't impress much.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Kenny Stills