Tale Of The Tape: Miami Dolphins At New Orleans Saints
- QuarterbackThe Dolphins are undefeated and surprising a lot of observers around the AFC East, but they are not an overpowering team. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is a smart, accurate quarterback who flies beneath the radar, but he finds a way to win games. He has completed nearly two-thirds of his passes and does not make a lot of poor decisions.The Saints are making up for lost time after their disastrous 2012 season. In addition to their explosive offense, they are also playing with a lot of intelligence and cutting down on mistakes. It starts with Drew Brees, who is once again lighting up the scoreboard with 1,021 yards passing and six touchdowns. He has a quick release and he delivers the ball on the numbers.
- OffenseThe Dolphins are virtually bereft of superstars on the offensive end and they manage to move the ball fairly well any way. The running game is ordinary with Lamar Miller, but wide receivers Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace are quite productive. Hartline knows how to get open and will not drop the ball, while Wallace has gamebreaking speed.The Saints offense has been good, but it has not been operating at peak efficiency. They could get a lot more from their running game since Pierre Thomas leads the team with 100 yards through three games. Jimmy Graham is the best receiving tight end in the league and Marques Colston is a dependable receiver. Lance Moore has not been at his best and he is battling a wrist injury.
- DefenseThe Dolphins have been finding a way to win games, but their defense has been fairly generous, ranking 20thin yards allowed. The Dolphins will need to put a lot of pressure on Drew Brees, and that will be difficult without defensive end Cameron Wake, who will miss 2-3 weeks with a knee strain. Middle linebacker Daniel Ellerbe has a team-high 30 tackles and is involved in most plays.The Saints have been getting it done on the defense side of the ball in a shocking manner as they rank fourth in yards allowed. Defensive end Cameron Jordan keys the pass rush and he has 3.0 sacks so far this year. Keep your eyes on unheralded strong safety Kenny Vaccaro who has 17 tackles, three passes defensed and one interception.
- Special TeamsThe Dolphins have been getting excellent play from their special teams coverage units so far. Caleb Sturgis has made all six of his FG attempts and looks like he might thrive under pressure. Brandon Fields is one of the best punters in the league and he is averaging 49.0 yards per kick.The Saints’ coverage teams have been middle-of-the-pack so far, Darren Sproles has the quickness to elude tacklers on punt and kickoff returns, but he has yet to break a long one yet. Garrett Hartley has made 7-of-8 FG attempts, but he has not attempted a field goal of 50 yards or longer.
These two undefeated teams find themselves in the Monday night focus, and it should be advantage, New Orleans. They hold the statistical and physical edge in all key areas and they also have the home field advantage in the raucous Superdome. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor