The New Orleans Saints (1-2) will be joining the Miami Dolphins (1-1) in London for their Week 4 matchup. It is essential that the Saints return back to the States with a 2-2 record. Today, we’ll be looking at five storylines of interest.
1) Ndamukong Suh vs. Saints’ Interior Offensive Line
So far, the Saints have done a pretty good job of protecting quarterback Drew Brees. They’ve only allowed three sacks this year, but things could change this Sunday. Ndamukong Suh is one of the best defensive tackles in the game. Over the course of his eight year career, he has 47 sacks. His combination of speed and power make him difficult to stop.
Max Unger, Larry Warford, and whoever plays at left guard (either Senio Kelemente or Andrus Peat) will have their hands full with Suh. Drew Brees loves to climb the pocket, and in order for that to happen, the interior has to hold up. There’s no doubt that the Saints are aware of Suh’s ability, and it’s likely they’ve spent time scheming to limit him. The Saints’ success in stopping Suh could have a tremendous impact on the game.
2) The Possible Return of Zach Strief
Starting right tackle Zach Strief suffered a knee injury against the Vikings and has missed the past two games. Strief has been limited this week in practice, and his return would be a welcome sight. The offensive line played well last week, but Strief’s return would allow the unit to return to the lineup they practiced with in training camp. Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake typically lines up against the right tackle, and Strief would be the right tackle best equipped to stop Wake.
It would likely be wise of the Saints to hold Strief out of action this Sunday. After this week’s game, the Saints have a bye. An extra two weeks of rest would be the safest course of action for the Saints to take.
3) The Return of Willie Snead
Wide receiver Willie Snead’s three-game suspension is now over, and he’s allowed to return to action. There’s no guarantee that he’ll play as he was limited in practices with a hamstring injury. However, if he does return, it’ll be interesting to see what role he has. One would expect him to play in the slot as he did last year, but the coaches haven’t yet indicated where he’s at on the depth chart. Will he be the team’s second receiver? Will Brandon Coleman and Tommylee Lewis continue to see action from the slot? Those are some of the questions that will have to be answered with the return of Willie Snead.
4) Saints Secondary
After the first two weeks of the season, it appeared that the Saints defense (and more specifically, the secondary) were back to being their old selves. However, last week provided a glimpse of hope. The group held Cam Newton 167 yards on 27 attempts. To add to that, the Saints intercepted Newton three times. Cornerback Ken Crawley looked good in his first game of the year (had previously been inactive), and P.J. Williams looked solid for much of the game.
Rookie corner Marshon Lattimore will play on Sunday after suffering a concussion against the Patriots. He has been the team’s best corner without a doubt. Ken Crawley deserves more playing time after his outstanding performance. It would make sense for Lattimore and Williams to start on the outside in the base defense. In the nickel, Williams could slide inside and Crawley could man the outside spot. The Saints secondary will be tested as the Dolphins have three legitimate receivers in DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Kenny Stills.
5) Saints Pass Catchers vs. Dolphins Secondary
It’s a well-known fact that Drew Brees is dangerous. When he has good protection, he’s seemingly unstoppable. The Dolphins secondary will face a tough test against all of the playmakers the Saints have on offense.
The Dolphins are currently allowing 278 passing yards a game (28th in the league). Drew Brees should have the opportunity to feast upon the Dolphins secondary. Last week, Sean Payton found a way to get Michael Thomas, the Saints’ best receiver, more involved in the game. Payton motioned running backs out wide to get Thomas is man coverage with a linebacker. The plan was incredibly successful as Thomas had 87 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.
As time progresses, the Saints’ passing attack will only get stronger as the chemistry between Drew Brees and his new weapons, Ted Ginn Jr. and Alvin Kamara, continues to improve. Brees and Ginn connected on their first deep ball of the year last week (40-yard touchdown). The Dolphins will have a tough time to matchup with all of the weapons the Saints have on offense. Running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have looked good in the passing game, and Coby Fleener seems more comfortable with the system. This matchup has all of the makings of a shootout.
- The Saints win by a score of 31-24.
- Michael Thomas becomes the first Saints player to eclipse 100 yards from scrimmage in a game this season with a big performance.
- Marshon Lattimore snags an interception.
- Jay Ajayi has two rushing touchdowns.