Dolphins vs. Saints: Takeaways from the Saints' 38-17 Victory over Miami

Murf Baldwin@@MurfBaldwinContributor IOctober 1, 2013

Dolphins vs. Saints: Takeaways from the Saints' 38-17 Victory over Miami

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    Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

    In what was hailed as a battle between two possible contending teams, the New Orleans Saints laid waste to the Miami Dolphins in rather emphatic fashion. With a 38-17 victory, the Saints made a statement on national television—while running their record to a perfect 4-0.

    This is the type of game that Saints fans were clamoring for. Both units (offense and defense) were operating extremely effectively, while executing at a high level.  

    As a team, the Saints dictated where the action went, similar to a great boxer.

    It's hard to really pinpoint a negative in a win like this. But I feel the Saints can be even better! 

    Looking forward, wins over the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots (the next two opponents) would almost solidify this team as a Super Bowl contender.

    Sure is a complete turnaround from last season's debacle!

    Here are my takeaways from the game.

Balanced Strategy?

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    After seeing the New England Patriots destroy the Atlanta Falcons (in person), I'm thoroughly convinced the Saints can be just as effective strategically. The Patriots were able to execute an offensive game plan that saw them run and pass the ball 31 times each. 

    The depth of offensive talent in the backfield, coupled with the quality of quarterback, makes these two teams identical in personnel. 

    Well looks can be deceiving.

    The Saints don't have the wherewithal to match the Patriots as far as balance goes. When you can spread the ball to over seven players, it renders the run pretty much obsolete.  

    Against the Dolphins, the Saints threw the ball 39 times opposed to running it 24. This is pretty deceiving as a great deal of the attempts came in the fourth quarter. The Saints only ran the ball twice in a row once—before late in the third quarter.

    Conversely, the Patriots ran the ball 10 times in a row in the second quarter against Atlanta.

    Both are two great teams, with two completely different mindsets. These two teams meet in New England in two weeks, in what could be a possible Super Bowl preview.

Offense Holding Its End of the Bargain?

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    In what has been like an episode of The Twilight Zone, the Saints defense has been the star unit of the season thus far. After setting records for deficiency last season, not many would've guessed that the unit would outshine the perennially spectacular entity that is the Saints offense.

    You had to expect the offense would eventually get on track. And get on track it most certainly did. 

    Garnering over 481 yards, the Saints more than made up for a couple of lackluster performances. Quarterback Drew Brees was back to his machine-like way of operating as well. 

    When Brees has it going, he reminds me of a conductor of a symphony. Even with so many moving parts, Brees seemingly ties it all together with poise and grace. The next time the offense is firing on all cylinders, I'm going to turn the sound down on my TV and play some classical music, as a tribute to the fine art that I'm witnessing. 

    If only they could add the run as an extra instrument...

Taking Advantage of Weak Offensive Lines

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    Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

    For the Saints to get to where they need to be, they must be able to enforce their collective wills on units that are inferior in talent. There's nothing worse than seeing a poor unit not exposed as such. 

    The Saints had zero trouble rendering the Dolphins offensive line helpless. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill was sacked a league-high 14 times entering Monday's tilt with New Orleans. He leaves with four more for his troubles.

    Outside linebacker Junior Galette is making people a believer in the talent that he possesses. In pass-rush situations, I'm almost more shocked if he's not in the opposing quarterback's lap!

    When the Saints go to their even-front alignment, the tandem of Galette and defensive end Cameron Jordan is almost too much for any line to handle.  

    Linemen Akiem Hicks, Tyrunn Walker and Glenn Foster are all viable options in a rotation. Linebackers Martez Wilson, Parys Haralson and Jay Richardson only add to the talent level.

    The Saints are simply stacked!

Keenan Lewis vs. Mike Wallace

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    Courtesy of Nola.com
    Courtesy of Nola.com

    In what was deemed as a battle of native New Orleanians, in actuality should've been called Mayweather vs. Canelo—after the last extremely hyped one-on-one battle that ended up being a disappointment. 

    Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace looked rather pedestrian, while Saints corner Keenan Lewis was injured (again) for a good portion of the game. The only real true test between the two came on a deep ball in the first quarter.

    Wallace displayed his mediocre hands on the play, while Lewis failed to properly locate the ball. Actually, both failed to locate the ball as it went right through Wallace's hands.

    Wallace ended up with three receptions for 24 yards, while Lewis garnered three tackles. 

    Tough night for both, but Lewis leaves with bragging rights in the form of victory. 

Stout Run Defense

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    Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

    I expect the Saints to have their hands full with the Chicago Bears run game on Sunday. The Dolphins were an excellent test for the Saints...a test that they did not pass.

    The Dolphins ended up with 115 yards on only 19 carries despite being in the trail position for most of the game. The Saints struggled with the zone-blocking scheme of Dolphins, which is strange considering the Saints are a zone-blocking outfit as well. 

    Improper run-fits, coupled with poor tackling, being the culprit. The Bears present an even stiffer test with running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush leading a multiple-scheme attack. 

    The inability to run, and stop the run, is scary to even think about—as far as postseason play is concerned. There will come a point where a team stops the pass attack (I think); it will be the ability to throw another pitch that will get the Saints out of that situation.

    It starts with stopping the run and rendering a team one-dimensional in the process. 

Statement Being Made

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    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    I listen to sports radio all over the U.S. on a daily basis. The Saints are often brought up as a mid-tier team that most think won't contend. After disposing of the undefeated Dolphins on Monday Night Football, I can almost guarantee the tenor of the conversation will change in a major way.

    The Saints just put the entire NFL on notice that last year's 7-9 record was a complete anomaly. Home wins like this also put fear in the minds of opponents who know they have to visit the Saints. 

    With an equally potent offense and defense, the Saints are a tough out for any team.

    They are playing so well that I'm starting to wonder if they could contend in Major League Baseball! 

    They smoked the Dolphins, the Miami Marlins might be even easier....