We often talk about balance and it's merits to this Saints' offense, but when this team rushes for 140 yards at 5.6 per carry, you can pretty much guarantee the team is going to win. The Saints blocked well, ran the football with conviction and while they only put together three scoring drives that was more than enough to win the game. Kudos all around for a solid performance from top to bottom. Make the jump for the grades!
Drew Brees: A- (2.79) This may not have been his best statistical performance but if you watched him play he was surgical. His completion % of close to 78% is finally more in line with what we expect from something that's been largely down all season. He finished 21 of 27 for 239 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 fumbles. One was recovered astutely by Pierre Thomas, and the other was lost. I would blame Brees on one for holding on to the ball too long, and while the other was a bad block by Strief he could have had better ball security. Watching him play against Michael Vick just makes you realize how good he is. Vick has atrocious footwork and the worst technique/fundamentals you will almost ever see in an NFL QB. So many of his throws are off target because of how sloppy and lazy he is delivering it. How Brees will get tripped up, and still set his feet to deliver a ball accurately is pretty special. We're really spoiled to be able to watch him. The two turnovers sucked and the stats weren't great but I feel like Brees played extremely well and the location of most of his throws were perfect. As usual, his footwork in the pocket was as good as I've ever seen.
Pierre Thomas: A- (2.96) Another vintage performance by Thomas who ran extremely hard and took tacklers with him every time. He finished with 44 yards on just 6 carries and 2 catches for 26 yards. He showed terrific hands on a wheel route on a perfect lead by Brees to gain nice yardage there. 8 touches felt way too light for such a dynamic playmaker, but he also had a big 38 yard kick return to give the Saints good field position.
Mark Ingram: A- (2.04) I guess adding Ivory to the mix shook his foundation because he clearly came with an all new set of purpose running the football. He bounced outside, he broke tackles and he ran with the kind of authority we haven't seen all season. He had 7 carries for 44 yards and also added 2 catches for 23 yards. He showed good overall help in the passing game with his hands and ability after the catch, proving that if given an opportunity in that department he is capable. This performance puts him over 2.00.
Chris Ivory: A- (3.67) A steller boost to the running game, with the kind of power and speed combination the team needed. He had 48 yards on 10 carries and added a beautiful touchdown run. He also had a reception for 2 yards. He was stopped dead in his tracks a couple of times trying to get too fancy, though, which I attribute to being rusty from lack of playing time. With Darren Sproles presumably out a couple more games at least, hopefully he'll see more action.
Jed Collins: A (2.50) Are you getting sick of the A's yet? I noticed a couple small mistakes here and there with all these guys, but overall they were all that good. The blocking by Collins was absolutely terrific lead blocking for the stable of backs, and on play actions his rolling protection was outstanding. His lead block on Ivory's touchdown run was pretty special. He also had a reception for 1 yard.
Marques Colston: B- (2.59) A quiet game offensively for Colston, though he did come up with a huge 3rd down conversion. He also scored a gimme 1 yard touchdown on a nice pick by the umpire. He finished with 4 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown, but had trouble separating from Nnamdi Asomugha. He did a poor job protecting on a blitz, though, and he got a 40+ run by Travaris Cadet (who will be graded w/ special teams) called back for holding.
Lance Moore: B- (2.72) He only had two catches but both were huge. His first was a 38 yarder that was an absolutely incredible catch early in the ball game. He also got open after a play broke down later, making another nice grab changing his direction. He finished with 2 catches for 61 yards.
Devery Henderson: C+ (2.43) Hard to grade him because he only contributed one catch for 8 yards. He was targeted once deep and almost came up with a circus catch but the ball was slightly underthrown and the safety made a nice play. His run blocking downfield was positively outstanding, though. So he really made a difference on the field in that department and he deserves a lot of credit for it. Henderson is a complete receiver and does all the little things we don't always take the time to appreciate.
Joe Morgan: C (1.83) He was mostly a decoy running deep routes in this one to stretch the field and never made any impact in the passing game. To his credit, though, he also blocked pretty well in the run game.
Jimmy Graham: B+ (2.24) Can he just go one game without a maddening drop? He had two in this one, including a really bad third down play that preceded a missed long field goal by Garrett Hartley. The Saints kept going back to him, though, exploiting one on one matchups repeatedly to move the chains. Most of the time it worked out. He finished with a solid 8 catch performance for 72 yards and 1 touchdown. He didn't do a great job of breaking tackles after the catch, though he had a beautiful stiff arm juke on his touchdown. He was definitely a big positive on the field this time overall.
David Thomas: B- (1.79) Outstanding blocking that's docked a little bit for yet ANOTHER false start penalty... why does that keep happening with him despite a relatively low number of reps? He was a non factor in the passing game. Still, he was incredibly physical and useful in the run game.
Jermon Bushrod: A- (2.59) To me he was by far the best and most physical run blocker on the day. A couple of times he threw beautiful lead blocks off the edge on screens, too, and even hustled downfield to finish plays the right way. Another outstanding performance by Bushrod who in my opinion is playing some of the best ball of his career right now. He did allow some pressure off the edge in pass protection, but as usual Brees did a good job feeling it and stepping into the pocket to avoid it.
Ben Grubbs: C+ (2.54) He pulled very often as the Saints kept attacking the right side of the Eagles' defense and had missed results. A couple times he threw devastating blocks, and other times he whiffed which caused a loss. His pass protection was solid but unremarkable.
Brian de la Puente: B (2.17) An all around pretty solid effort on the interior. Cullen Jenkins is no slouch and he did a good job of moving his big body around. A good game from the Saints' center.
Jahri Evans: A- (2.75) He did everything very well, per usual. Once again the Saints' star linemen is dominating the interior. What a great investment his huge contract turned out to be.
Zach Strief: C- (2.13) He was flagged once and struggled to block Jason Babin despite lots of help from chips and double teams. His run blocking was strong and physical, but he gave up a lot of pressure on the edge. Hopefully he's ok, he left the game with a groin injury.
Charles Brown: C- (1.67) He came in numerous times as a "jumbo tight end" and made one horrific block that blew up a running play. He did make up for it with a critical lead block on Ivory's touchdown run. He then replaced Strief after the injury and was largely poor. He gave up a sack/fumble but Brees was partially to blame there for holding on to the ball too long. If Strief is out for any length of time, I'm very nervous with him at right tackle based on his performance in this game and how he fared about Chris Long last year.
My offensive player of the game: Jed Collins
...6, 7, 10. # of carries by Thomas, Ingram & Ivory. Great stuff. I was screaming all week leading up to the game that if the Saints didn't give those three @ least 8+ carries a piece, I'd be furious. They almost satisfied my tally. Close enough though. I wonder how my message got across? No matter. Hopefully, N.O. will continue that trend. Baked Eagles, served. Now I'm starved for fried Failcants'!
WOW! Jed Collins! Never expected to see him at the top of the list, but you're right, he was fantastic.
As Heath Evans said it yesterday on NFL Network: "The Saints have gotten an upgrade at Fullback since I left there"