Dolphins at Saints: Thumbs up, Thumbs down

THUMBS UP

Drew Brees

It’s easy to take for granted just how good the guy is, because he does it every week. But Brees, like he had done time and time again, carved up yet another defense Monday. Brees was accurate, made the right decisions with his audibles and set the tone from the very beginning. Miami just couldn’t stop him.

Darren Sproles

Somewhere on their flight back to Miami, the Dolphins are still trying to figure out ways to cover New Orleans’ big little man. The Dolphins tried linebackers and defensive backs and still couldn’t stop him. Sproles was dynamic catching the ball and returning it. Simply put, Sproles is a matchup nightmare.

The fans

This was the kind of energetic, raucous atmosphere in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that opponents have come to know and loathe. The crowd was frenetic from the start, making any kind of call at the line of scrimmage almost unbearable for young Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The young Dolphins just weren’t ready for what they faced the minute they walked in the building.

THUMBS DOWN

The run offense

Simply put, the Saints did the Dolphins a favor every time they tried to run the ball Monday. Running plays have turned into orchestrated rests for Brees’ arm and not the kind of gainers that they are designed to be. Brees was able to pass the Saints to a victory Monday, but he won’t be able to do that against the NFL’s better teams. This lack of a run offense could be the difference between hosting the NFC Championship game and possibly playing it on the road in Seattle.

The defense

Only when the game was out of hand did the defense get the best of the Dolphins. But when the game was close and Miami still had the option of running the ball, the defense struggled. They even struggled against the “pistol” formation. Miami might have exposed some things that may come back to haunt the Saints.

The offensive line

There is nothing special about this group other than its pass-blocking — and even that is helped by the greatness of Brees. Offensive lines that excel at pass blocking only usually get exposed during the season.