The Miami Dolphins are playing surprisingly well and are 3-0 without too much talent at running back and a second-year quarterback, while the New Orleans Saints have suddenly found a defensive edge they haven’t had in years, while the offense is doing just as they were expected to.
Rob Ryan was considered an overrated defensive coordinator after he left the Dallas Cowboys. Over relying on the blitz and usually having a hard time organizing a consistent secondary and run-defense. However, everything has changed for the Saints with the return of Sean Payton to the sidelines and Ryan’s arrival to the team.
While the Saints are pretty easy to run again (giving up 111 yards per game), the Saints have the fourth best defense in the NFL in terms of total yards and have allowed only 12.7 points per game so far. Their blitzing schemes seem to be working very well, and they have sacked or put opponents under duress on 29.5% of dropbacks this season, sixth in the NFL. Last season they were ranked 27th in that category.
But Drew Brees’ ability remains the focus of why the Saints are doing so well, even if the numbers aren’t showing a very impressive start to the season. The running game is non-existent with only 85.7 yards per game, but the Saints are putting up 318.7 yards per game in the air, and Brees has thrown for 1021 yards and six touchdowns so far. With 342 passing yards last weekend, Brees has thrown for at least 300 in eight consecutive games.
One big problem for opposing teams has been Jimmy Graham, acting as the number one wide receiver for the Saints this season. He has caught 23 passes for 4 touchdowns so far this season, and on 17 of those receptions, he was lineup up as a wide out. No other Saints wide receiver even has 17 total receptions.
The Dolphins haven’t been posting the best numbers on offense, but Ryan Tannehill, even with a problematic offensive line and a running game that gains only 70 yards a contest, is getting things done. He has already led to two fourth quarter game winning drives against the Colts and Falcons.
A problem for him is going to be turnovers – he has fumbled the ball five times already and thrown two interceptions. His O-line has allowed him to be sacked 18 times, which is tied for fourth in the NFL.
Prediction – The Dolphins have been a pleasant surprise through some strong defense and an impressive Ryan Tannehill connection with his receivers. However, the Saints’ blitzing should be too much for his offensive line to handle, and hardly anyone can keep up with Drew Brees at home.