Saints thumbs up, thumbs down

Thumbs up

SAINTS RB PIERRE THOMAS: Thomas, a Chicago native, returned to his hometown and played his best game of the season. He caught two touchdown passes in the first half, which was key against a Bears defense content to focus on Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. He also had some key carries.

SAINTS TE JIMMY GRAHAM: Graham, who is the best tight end in the NFL, tied a league record for tight ends with his fourth consecutive game with more than 100 yards receiving. He has a jumping ability on deep balls that is better than 98 percent of the receivers in the NFL. The Saints cannot afford to let Graham get on the open market after the season. They have to find a way to get him a contract deal now, because the better he does, the higher his price.

SAINTS DEFENSE: The unit had three sacks in the first half and dominated the line of scrimmage. The defense didn’t get the sacks in the second half, but they were stingy and did a great job with damage control. They played with a quickness and attitude that was win-worthy from the first snap. This unit being this good isn’t an accident. This is the kind of defense that can take a team deep in the playoffs.

Thumbs down

SAINTS SLIPS: The Saints had more shoe problems than Imelda Marcos in the first half with all of their slips because of bad cleats. The slips even cost the team some points, because offensive players slipped in the red zone on plays that could have resulted in touchdowns. They should have solved that problem before the game.

SAINTS MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: The Saints kick field goals on two drives in the red zone in the first half. Those field goals kept Chicago in the game and stopped it from being a blowout.

SAINTS RUN OFFENSE: This is a repeat from the last three games. In all truthfulness, the Saints ran the ball a little bit better against the Bears, but they still didn’t run it well enough to stop Drew Brees from taking some hits on throws. This unit is not good enough to be able to run the ball against an opponent when the opponent knows it is a running situation. The better the team runs the ball, the better it can protect Brees and even open up play-action passes down the field.

Pierce W. Huff