Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: New Orleans Saints At Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackThe Saints are still dependent on Drew Brees, and he is able to read defenses as well as any quarterback in the league. He also has the ability to put the ball where his receivers can make the catch and then pick up significant yards after the catch. While he may not have as much arm strength as he did earlier in his career, he can string passes together and light up the scoreboard.The start of the season has been mediocre for Jay Cutler. He played a sharp game in the Dolphins’ Week Two opener against the Chargers, but he struggled against the Jets last Sunday. Now Cutler gets an opportunity to dominate against a Saints defense that has been among the worst in the league for years. Cutler’s long-term play is dependent on his start, and if he can avoid an early pick, he should be decent.
- OffenseHead coach Sean Payton has been an excellent offensive coach over the years, but there’s plenty of conflict going on with Adrian Peterson this year. The former All-Pro wants to become the team’s dominant running back, but the Saints offense does not appear to be enthralled with him. Michael Thomas is a first-rate threat at wide receiver, while Ted Ginn needs to show some dependability.The best thing Cutler has going for him is the running of Jay Ajayi, who shows aggressiveness and skill every time he carries the ball. That allows head coach Adam Gase to pick and choose his spots of when he wants to attack with the pass. Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker are solid receivers, while tight end Julius Thomas could turn into an excellent red zone weapon.
- DefenseThe Saints thought they had made some progress with their defense in the offseason and with their performance in exhibition games, but it is clear that they are fooling themselves. If they are going to get better in pass defense, their cover men have to play aggressively and close the gaps on the wide receivers. Pass rushers Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor to put the heat on opposing quarterbacks.The Dolphins have a chance to become one of the nastier defenses in the league. They have a potentially dominating 1-2 punch with Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, but they need more intensity if they are going to reach their potential. Linebacker Kiko Alonso is smart, athletic and effective, and he can go sideline-to-sideline to make plays.
- Special TeamsThe Saints have a chance to play quite well on special teams, but they need Ginn to step up in this area because he is so fast and explosive. However, he has never dominated in this role. PK Wil Lutz is one of the best young kickers in the league while P Thomas Morstead is a sensational weapon.The Dolphins have been hard working with their special teams and they generally do a good job of preventing big plays in the return game. Cody Parkey has had some success as a FG kicker, but Matt Haack is an unproven rookie punter.
The Dolphins have the advantage because they are a much better defensive team than the Saints, but the trip across the Atlantic can be an equalizer. If the Saints get off to a decent start, they could pull off the upset here.