Posted October 01, 2013

Drew Brees, Saints’ passing attack bring Dolphins to their knees

Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, NFC South
Jimmy Graham (80), Ben Watson (82) and Darren Sproles (43) all scored touchdowns on Monday night. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jimmy Graham (left), Ben Watson and Darren Sproles all scored TDs on Monday. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Dolphins managed to stay within striking distance of the Saints until the third quarter Monday, but they were in trouble as early as the game’s second play.

Darren Sproles, lined up in the slot to Drew Brees’ blindside, faked a route into the flat and then turned up the sideline — blowing by Miami safety Reshad Jones in the process. Brees waited an extra beat for his scat back to come free, then lobbed one in for what turned out to be a 45-yard completion.

From there, save for a couple-possession stretch in which Miami’s defensive line disrupted Brees, the Dolphins found themselves guessing incorrectly at what was coming next from New Orleans’ offense.

“I felt like we found our rhythm there mid second quarter,” Brees told ESPN after his team moved to 4-0 with a 38-17 win. “We just felt like every time we touched the ball, we were going to go down and get points.”

Peyton Manning had his latest moment Sunday afternoon, shredding Philadelphia’s defense. Then Tom Brady took center stage in the evening, outdueling Matt Ryan in Atlanta. Monday, it was Brees’ turn and he did not disappoint.

Brees hit on eight of 10 passes in the first quarter, before ringing up a quartet of TD tosses over the final 45 minutes. He nearly had a fifth, too, with a pass tipping off Marques Colston’s hands in the closing moments. The incompletion was one of nine Brees had in a 30-for-39, 413-yard night — an effort that former teammate and current Lions running back Reggie Bush referred to on Twitter as “vintage Brees.”

“He was at a real sharp level, he did a good job with his progressions and protected the football well,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of Brees. “He was outstanding.”

As Brees is wont to do, he spread the love through the air, hitting eight different receivers.

The real damage, though, was done by the Saints’ old reliables: Darren Sproles, with 114 yards and a pair of TDs (one rushing, one receiving) in the first half; Jimmy Graham, who brought down two TDs; and, as New Orleans put the game on ice, Colston.

The Dolphins simply failed to counter-punch against any of it defensively. One minute, Sproles was smoking linebacker Philip Wheeler in a spectacular mismatch. The next, Graham was leaping over rookie corner Jamar Taylor to bring down an acrobatic touchdown reception.

New Orleans entered Monday night with the athletes to create advantages against Miami’s defense. Once the offensive line settled in and started stymieing the Dolphins’ Cameron Wake-less front, Brees and company went to work — starting with Sproles.

“We mixed up where we put him a lot, obviously try to get him some favorable matchups, keep defenses guessing where he’s going to be,” Brees said. “We do that with all of our guys, formation people to death.”

Payton elaborated: “(Sproles is) a viable part of what we do, so it was nothing elaborate during the week. What happens, though, is it becomes difficult to put help over Jimmy or safety help over someone else without possibly isolating your backs. He’s a real smart player, so when he ends up open in zones or doing the right thing in man, it’s not really a surprise.”

At least in the early going, the previously undefeated Dolphins seemed as if they might match anything Sproles, Graham and the rest of the Saints’ offense threw up on the board.

But Miami’s promising first drive fizzled when John Jenkins buried Daniel Thomas in the backfield on 3rd-and-1. Tannehill fumbled a few minutes later, one of four turnovers the Dolphins’ emerging quarterback had on the night.

The first three weeks were full of promise for Tannehill’s team. On this night, he and the Dolphins made far too many mistakes to hang with a near-flawless Brees.

“They really deserved to win the game,” Miami coach Joe Philbin said. “They played better than we did, without a doubt.”

In defense of Philbin’s Dolphins, few teams walk out of the Superdome with a win when Brees gets rolling like he did Monday. The victory moved the Saints to a perfect 4-0, the exact opposite of the start they endured during a scattered 2012.

“Everything that could have gone wrong for us last year went wrong,” Brees told ESPN. “We’re fortunately having the ball bounce our way this year … but we’re also playing very good football.”

Amen to that.

The Saints’ defense continues to pull its weight, as well. For the fourth consecutive week, Rob Ryan’s D held an opponent under 20 points. It did so this time by forcing a season-high four turnovers and also sacking Tannehill four times.

Because of that increasingly potent offense-defense combo, few teams in the NFL have looked as dangerous as New Orleans has thus far this season.

The Saints gave Miami a first-hand look at the complete package Monday night. And they did not wait very long before unleashing everything they had.

11 comments
Soulman45
Soulman45

The Saints are good on both side of the ball. I hope the Detroit Lions meet them again this year it will be fun and i will get a idea how far the Lions have come.

x72
x72

NFC PWR Rankings

1. Saints

2. Shehawks

3. Lions

Fifilo
Fifilo

Not surprises here, turn the ball over against a better team and it will be a blowout.

Brees tried to do too much last year with a putrid D but he is more relaxed now. 

Tannyhill can be very good, but he cannot take care of the ball and if this is not quickly corrected he will be known as Hennehill in Miami.

Joseph F
Joseph F

It's still early, and the Saints just ran up the score on a not that good Dolphins team.  Let's see where they are in 4 more weeks.

arby
arby

Peter King, what about Sean Payton for Coach of the Year?  Doing a pretty good job down there after the disappointing season they had last year.  Who Dat D!

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

Undefeated  saints have a D this year to go with Brees & Co.Angry motivated team too after last seasons on and off field debacles.

pastorchuck2
pastorchuck2

Actually, they didn't mention Katrina once.  The only hurricane that was mentioned was Hurricane Who Dat which proceeded to decimate the dolphins thank u very much!!!!!!!!!!

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

BFD...see how many jump off the bandwagon after Seattle beats them down in early December. Couldn't watch the game last nIght, but let me guess. The broadcasters/mouthpieces mentioned Hurricane Katrina again, didn't they?


RCH
RCH

@btcvsolo Don't worry there will be plenty of Katrina references this Sunday but it will come from lowlife Bears fans as usual. 

freedomsmouth
freedomsmouth

@btcvsolo The Seahawks have a good team, should be a tough game for the Saints.  My dad and I will be flying out to Seattle to watch the game.  Still deciding whether or not to wear my Brees jersey in case Seahawks fans want to jump me.. haha.  To my knowledge there was only mention of Katrina when the commentators spoke of the excitement about the game in comparison to the excitement when the Saints played the Falcons following Katrina.  I live in Louisiana, and yes I'm sick of hearing about it as well.  At some point we've got to move on.  For the most part the weather down here is great, except for when we do have hurricanes of course.

SaintSox
SaintSox

@btcvsolo If it takes until December for some people to jump off the bandwagon, the Saints will be having quite a season.