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Refocused Miami Vs New Orleans

Big A

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New Orleans – Three Performances of Note

Nearly Flawless Brees Steals the Show

You could count the things Drew Brees did wrong in this game on one hand. He failed to get a play sorted pre-snap resulting in a delay of game, and he under-threw Darren Sproles on a swing pass early in the fourth — aside from that you’d be hard pressed to fault his performance. Of his nine incompletions in the game, two were dropped passes, two were thrown away, and one was batted by Paul Soliai midway through the first quarter. Perhaps not quite as flawless a performance as we saw from Peyton Manning last Monday, but really you’d be nitpicking to separate the two. However you slice it Brees was too good for the Dolphins. You’ve already seen his stats between the numbers, outside the numbers he was no slouch either, and you can draw the same result by looking at his intermediate throws as well (9 of 11, 142 yards, +3.7 grade). The sky is the limit for the Saints when Brees plays like this.

Pass Rushing Trio Make Their Mark

We’ve given Cameron Jordan plenty of credit for his start to the season and, after some struggles early on in run defense, he again came into his own as a pass rusher as the Saints established their lead. He Racked up six more pressures in this one to take his season total to 23 (4 Sk, 3 Ht, 16 Hu) after four games. Jordan wasn’t alone in getting to Tannehill in this game however, with Junior Galette (+2.5) continuing his strong start to the season with another four pressures. Galette took the Dolphins’ signal-caller down on three of those four pressures, including his sack which came off a sharp outside move having faked inside which turned Miami left tackle Jonathan Martin inside out. Perhaps the surprise package though was John Jenkins who provided a real presence as a pass rusher in the second half for such a big man, including getting a hit on Chris Carr’s deflected interception while lined up wide of the tackle and running Tyson Clabo right back to his quarterback. The Saints’ defense has been one of the surprise packages in the league this season, taking quickly to Rob Ryan’s scheme and providing an excellent foil to Sean Payton’s offense.

Few Bright Spots in Wake’s Absence

This game provided a rare test of the strength in depth for the Dolphins’ defensive line, with star defensive end Cameron Wake out through injury. As if to mirror the theme for the whole game, there was both encouragement and discouragement for Miami without their star pass rusher against one of the league’s better offensive lines. In the first half, Olivier Vernon made a real nuisance of himself collecting five pressures (1 Sk, 4 Hu), predominantly to the outside of the Saints’ tackles, but collected no pressure on 17 second-half pass rushes. Those five pressures from Vernon accounted for more than the rest of the team put together, with Jared Odrick notching a sack while Derrick Shelby and Dion Jordan accounted for a pressure apiece. All of this led to Brees being pressured on only 6 of his 42 drop-backs — only Matt Cassel was pressured on a lower percentage of drop-backs this week. Vernon’s first half backed up a solid showing against the Falcons last week, but the rest of the Dolphins’ pass rush performance in this game only places more importance on Wake’s health and return to the lineup.

Mixed Messages From Tannehill

After his strong start to the season this was a chance for Tannehill to really build and show to a national audience the strides he has made. While he did show that with some solid and efficient passing, his interception started the ball rolling as the Saints rumbled to their unassailable lead, and his fumble on a scramble into Saints’ territory was also converted into a touchdown drive by Brees earlier in the game. Coming up against a defense coached by one of the Ryan twins, Tannehill might have expected to see more blitzes, but he was blitzed on only three of his 41 drop-backs. He completed all three of those passes for 78 yards, going 19 of 32 with all of his three interceptions against a base pass rush. For all of his solid passing to intermediate routes (save for the late Q2 interception) those key negative plays helped turn the game for Tannehill in what could, used correctly, prove an important learning experience as he continues to develop as an NFL quarterback.


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Some fun with numbers, from ESPN article

-Quarterback Drew Brees was the easy choice for PFF’s game ball. They broke down just how efficient Brees was in his 413-yard, four-touchdown performance.

-An interesting comparison pointed out by Saints researcher Lenny Vangilder: Monday night was only the second time in the Sean Payton era that the Saints defense had four takeaways and four sacks. The other also came in Week 4 at home -- against the New York Jets in 2009. That year the Saints started 13-0 and won a Super Bowl.

-According to ESPN Stats & Information, 82 percent of teams that started 4-0 have made it to the playoffs since the NFL expanded to 12 playoff teams in 1990.

-This is the fourth time the Saints have started 4-0 in franchise history (also in 1991, 1993 and 2009). They made the playoffs at 11-5 in 1991 but missed out at 8-8 in 1993.

-Surprisingly, the Saints are one of six teams since 1990 to start 0-4 one year and 4-0 the next year. Apparently, “worst to first” is a popular trend.

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Jenkins Playing BIG TIME!

New Orleans Saints rookie nose tackle John Jenkins hasn’t received as much attention as his fellow draft classmates, safety Kenny Vaccaro and receiver Kenny Stills. But the third-round pick out of Georgia actually has the highest grade of the bunch according to Pro Football Focus, which assigns a plus or minus to players on every snap.


Jenkins’ overall season grade of plus-5.2 ranks him sixth best among all rookies in the NFL this year, according to PFF. He’s had a positive grade in all four games this year, effective as both a run defender and pass-rusher, after being thrust into a more prominent role when veteran starter Brodrick Bunkley was injured in Week 1. And Jenkins had his best game Monday night in a 38-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

The Saints’ new big man (listed at 6-3, 359 pounds) made two huge plays Monday. First was a run stuff on an early third-and-1 to force the Dolphins to settle for a field goal inside the red zone. Then late in the game, Jenkins’ pass pressure helped force Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill into an interception.

It would be tough to say that Jenkins has made a bigger impact than Vaccaro so far, since Vaccaro has played almost every snap and has been thriving in a unique safety/cornerback/linebacker role. But both of them deserve recognition for the key parts they’ve been playing in New Orleans’ revamped defense.


Edited by Big A
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