Co-Host of WWL's "SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia," Weekdays 4-8PM
Deke's Game Day preview: Dolphins vs. Saints
by Deke Bellavia,posted Sep 30 2013 10:55AM
Who are the Miami Dolphins?
Miami is 3-0 because…well, the simple answer is that they won all their games. But Miami has been playing good football. To be 3-0 in the NFL is no easy task. And Miami has an impressive road win to their credit with a 24-20 win over the Colts in week two.
The Dolphins are getting solid play from second year QB Ryan Tannehill. Hill engineered a 13 play 75 yard drive that ended with him tossing an eight yard TD pass to Dion Sims. Now the Dolphins are trying to start the season 4-0 for the first time since 1995.
Tannehill shined in the Dolphins wins over the Colts and Falcons as the young signal caller had a QB rating of 107.4 against Indianapolis followed up by a 94.5 passer rating in the 27-23 win over Atlanta.
Miami has two legit wide receivers in Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace. Wallace has become one of the league’s top deep threats while Hartline is steadily movingup in the Dolphins record books. Hartline leads Miami with 18 grabs for 238 yards with two Td’s this season.
Lamar Miller leads the Dolphins in rushing. Miller has carried the ball 32 times for 134 yards with one score and a average of 4.2 yards per carry. The Dolphins have struggled to move the ball on the ground in their first three games averaging just 70.3 yards per game which ranks 28th in the NFL.
Interesting Saints Numbers
Who would have thunk it? The Saints defense is grabbing all the headlines right now. Coach Rob Ryan has completely transformed the Saints defense in a hand of months. New Orleans is holding their opponents to less than 13 points per game and foes are not getting to the 300 yard mark in total offense on average.
The Saints defense is much better in the two major stats: scoring defense and third down percentage. And as expected with a Rob Ryan coached defense, the Saints are being very aggressive when it comes to getting after the QB.
The Saints D has sacked or put opponents under duress on 29.5 percent of drop backs this season, sixth in the NFL. Those numbers are a welcomed by the Who Dat Nation, as last season the Saints did not pressure the opposing QB on a consistent basis.
And with the match-up this week facing a Dolphins QB (Ryan Tannehill) that has been sacked 14 times in three games, the Saints should be able to harass Tannehill early and often.
Over on offense the Saints looked like they got their running game on track last week in the second half of their 31-7 win over the Cardinals. New Orleans was embarrassed in the first half with negative 6 yards rushing. But in the second half the Saints rushed for 110 yards, finishing with 104 yards on the ground in just one half of football.
RB Khiry Robinson took full advantage of his chance last week. Robinson averaged a Saints season high 9.5 yards per carry. It’s obvious that the Saints need a spark in their backfield. And Robinson could be the guy to give the Saints a lift. It will be interesting to see moving forward how Robinson figures into the Saints running game.
And is there a hotter non-QB offensive player in the league than Saints TE Jimmy Graham? JG is rolling right now. Jimmy has hauled in 23 receptions for 358 yards and four scores. Jimmy is averaging 15.6 yards per reception and he has 19 grabs in the last two games.
Simply put, there are not many players in this league that can cover a player the caliber of Jimmy Graham.
What they are saying
Dolphins Coach Joe Philbin on Coach Rob Ryan and the Saints Defense
“Coach Ryan is doing an excellent job. They are very multiple as you mentioned, sometimes it looks like a 3-4, sometimes it looks like a 4-3. He has bear defense in there. He is doing an excellent job. One thing you see on the tape is they pursue well to the football, their defensive backs are playing well, their pass rush is very, very good, their two ends are playing excellent, and they cover guys down field and they tackle. It is kind of good ole’ fashion defense. I don’t know if there is anything elaborate, but they are playing really well.”
Miami WR Mike Wallace on facing former High School and Pittsburgh Steelers teammate and current Saints CB Kennan Lewis.
“It’s going to be a little different. This is the first time I’m going to play against Keenan since we were younger, about seven or eight years old. I’ve known him since we were so small, about five or six years old. I haven’t played against Keenan since we were young like that. I’ve always been on his team, so this is a little different. I’m excited. I’m up for the challenge (and) I know he’s up for the challenge, so it’s going to be a good time.”
Saints Coach Sean Payton on New Orleans and Miami and their rushing attacks
“I don’t know that that’s the case. I would say this: number one, these statistical rankings after week three are like your English grade after your first quiz. We have a lot ahead of us that I’m sure Miami just as well as New Orleans hopes to improve on in those areas. I think being plus (two) in the turnover/takeaway department has been important. The third down numbers have been important. It’s really been a handful of reasons that you’re able to win games, but it’s important to recognize, ‘Hey, this is our record. But, man, there’s a lot of things that we have to get better at.’ I think that is the most important mindset the player has to have. We are not by any means a finished product. We’ve got a lot we’ve got to work on. Certainly the rules have adjusted to benefit elements of the passing game, and yet you watch a game or you see the film of a game last night where San Francisco did a great job rushing the football, and when you’re able to do that you control the game. That’s important.”
The Big Chief’s Final Analysis
Folks, the Saints should win this game. That is not in any way taking the Dolphins lightly or being disrespectful, but New Orleans has been dominant in prime time under Sean Payton. The Saints could very well the lone undefeated team in the NFC when this game is played as I think the Bears and Seahawks will have a tough time winning on the road this week at Detroit and Houston.
New Orleans looks like they are ready to take the next step forward in being a consistent rushing team on offense. And the Saints Defense is playing lights out. Folks when you’re playing defense like the Saints are, you can beat anyone! Please believe it.
New Orleans is 10-2 on MNF under Sean Payton and they have won their last eight MNF games by an average of 16 points. Lay the 6 ½ points and watch the Black and Gold improve to 4-0.
The Big Chief says: New Orleans 30 Miami 16
Miami Dolphins (3-0) vs New Orleans Saints (3-0)
Monday September 30, 7:30 Kickoff WWL Radio
Last week’s results: New Orleans beat Arizona 31-7 and Miami beat Atlanta 27-23
Series History: The Dolphins lead the series 6-4 in ten previous meetings