The Saints ran the ball very well, enjoyed a solid performance from their offensive line, and yet four turnovers will be the biggest takeaway (no pun intended) from this game. While the 27 points they put up were nice, shooting themselves in the foot with costly mistakes never really gave the team a chance to win the game. This unit has spiraled out of control the last three weeks and the high volume of turnovers are the kiss of death for any football team regardless of talent. Make the jump for the grades.
Drew Brees: C- (2.54) Despite ample time to throw he seemed just a bit off much of the day. Both of his picks were poor throws but they are both at least partially to blame on Graham as well. He finished 26 of 43 for 354 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. The first pick in particular to start the second half was a back breaker and it basically sealed the outcome. This loss wasn't squarely on him like the last two weeks, though.
Pierre Thomas: B (3.00) He had 5 carries for 19 yards and 7 catches for 57 yards. He was mostly valuable in the passing game with his reliable hands and had a couple decent runs.
Mark Ingram: B+ (2.26) He finished with 68 yards on 13 carries and did a good job moving the chains with powerful running. He didn't break as many tackles as I'd like but he was decisive with his cuts and quick to the hole. He seemed to get better as the game wore on, supporting the theory that you have to commit to him for him to be successful.
Darren Sproles: B+ (2.63) He had 56 yards on 5 carries and 1 touchdown, and 4 receptions for 28 yards and another touchdown. Most of his rushing yards came on toss sweeps and delays to the left side of the line where he was helped up by solid blocking. He dropped a couple passes, though, which was a little surprising, and he was stopped short on a 3rd and 1 toss sweep around the Giants' 5 which forced the Saints to kick a field goal. He had just 5 yards and 2 punt returns.
Jed Collins: C- (2.69) His blocking was very good but he killed the Saints with a very costly fumbled and a bad holding penalty that called back a nice end around run by Morgan. Unfortunately, it's hard to forgive him for those mistakes. He had 2 receptions for 9 yards.
Marques Colston: C- (2.54) He had a quiet day, just 4 catches for 61 yards. He didn't get much separation and was covered very well. For some reason Brees hasn't been looking his way as much lately. His biggest reception, a 30 yarder, ended in a fumble.
Devery Henderson: D+ (2.03) He finished with 1 catch for 11 yards. He looks slow these days, and his best years are behind him. Brees targeted 3 others times, and it resulted in a drop, an inability once again to show the awareness to keep both feet in down the sideline, and a bad pass that sailed out of bounds. Henderson is zero threat in the passing game and his only value at this point is his blocking, which is admittedly good. I'm sad to say it's become clear to me it's time to move on.
Lance Moore: C- (2.81) He had just 1 catch for 26 yards, that's it. He also had a shockingly bad drop. He's been the most consistent receiver on the season, but he was anything but in this game. A non factor.
Joe Morgan: A- (2.17) He blocked well overall, which was nice to see, and he's quickly becoming a dangerous deep threat. Both of these plays were less about his speed and more about his awareness and hands downfield, beating defensive backs to the ball both times. He had 2 catches for 106 yards to keep things interesting late, one of which was a circus catch. He also had a long run called back for a hold. As I've mentioned before, I think his ceiling is a Robert Meachem in his prime if he can become more polished and consistent. He can stretch the field, though, and I think he has a future with this team.
Jimmy Graham: D- (2.25) The stats look OK, 5 catches for 56 yards. The reality is this was yet another very bad game for Graham. Brees looks his way too much and Graham continues to burn him for it. He tipped the first pick into the waiting arms of a safety, but it was the second interception I found most frustrating. He stayed flat footed waiting for the ball to hit him in the chest (trying to catch the ball with his body) instead of going up to get it. How many times have we seen Graham attack the ball at it's height to give defenders no chance? It's like he's gotten soft or scared of a hit. He dropped a couple other passes, once going for his trademark piss poor technique one handed grab attempt, once allowing the ball to go through his hands which almost resulted in another interception. Shameful performance. He looks slow, doesn't assert himself in the game, and is just playing really uninspired football.
David Thomas: C (2.08) Came in as a blocker mostly, and did a good job particular on Sproles' touchdown run, but he hurts his grade due to a holding penalty.
Jermon Bushrod: B- (2.46) He gave up a sack late to Osi Umenyiora getting beat badly, but otherwise his pass protection was correct. His run blocking was superior, save a missed blocked on that 3rd and 1 toss sweep to Sproles which I thought was a stupid play call. When he pulled and got out in space he often laid a devastating block.
Ben Grubbs: B+ (2.79) Great interior blocking with a physical edge and great lateral quickness. He was critical to the run game and kept a largely clean pocket for Brees.
Brian de la Puente: A- (2.44) For the second straight week I thought he had a very good game. His power in the trenches on running plays is starting to make a difference as he continues to make strides on the ground.
Jahri Evans: A- (2.82) A clinic like performance from Evans, who really stepped up big when Strief went down to give Robinson some help. He was powerful in the trenches, leaving nice lanes for Ingram, and he was workmanlike in pass protection.
Zach Strief: B (2.10) Before coming out he had the tough duty of facing Jason Pierre-Paul and more than held his own. He did give up some pressure from the edge but did well. Seemed to hurt his ankle in the second quarter and would not return.
William Robinson: B+ (2.11) A very impressive showing, particularly in pass protection. He had some help, but I thought he did a fantastic job slowing down JPP. He didn't get much action in run blocking as they went mostly away from him, but when he did run block it wasn't great. Still, considering the high degree of difficulty he held up very well.
Eric Olsen: C+ (1.93) He gave the Saints some edge blocking but he was mostly a decoy and the Saints threw many times when he was in. He did a fine job in protection, nothing special.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Joe Morgan
...Saw Brees wearing glasses in an interview on TV last night. Is he doing the fashion-statement 'thing', or has he recently gone to get his eyes checked & is now wearing contacts during games? Might explain a few things. :l
Joe Morgan like WHOA. And I know we're not talking about defense right now, but can you say ELBERT MACK???
I think the second pick was not on Graham. Graham did really bad but the ball wasn;t high enough for Graham to go up for it. Make him work and jump and nobody can get the ball. Well.. that is unless he tips it and it winds up an interception anyway,,,
@MarijnPessers disagree. Watch the tape. That ball is high and Graham didn't go attack it. I think he got soft after the first INT where he was aggressive trying to get it and it led to a tipped high and an INT. I think his confidence is shot. But for him to run flat footed on a ball down the seam and try to trap it against his body is taking away his athletic and size advantage. Result? INT. It was definitely on him.
Graham seems lately to only play well when the Saints are ahead.
He isnt as Moss was/is, in that he only jogs when he knows the ball isnt coming to him, but it is close.
The pass that Graham alligator-armed was especially horrendous.