Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: New Orleans Saints At Miami Dolphins

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 24: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Jay Cutler #6 of the Miami Dolphins looks to pass against the New York Jets during the second half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins 20-6. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
  • Quarterback
    The 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.
  • Offense
    Head 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.
  • Defense
    The 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 Teams
    The 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.

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