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A quarter of the way through the season, the Miami Dolphins are 3-1 with wins against two teams that went to the playoffs last season. That is the rosy view of things.
But that one loss came on national television at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, who showed just how vulnerable the Dolphins are to a dynamic passing attack and strong pass rush. New Orleans QB Drew Brees torched Miami for 413 yards on 30-of-39 passing.
But it is not surprising when the Saints score a lot of points. They have one of the best offenses in football, and Miami was playing without Pro Bowl pass rusher Cameron Wake and starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson.
The Dolphins' offense can make no such excuses, and after the game New Orleans LB Junior Galette said what was doubtless on the minds of many impartial observers during the blowout.
"I just don't feel that team was as good as everybody was saying they were," Galette said of Miami. "We just abused the offensive line all game."
Indeed, the Saints sacked QB Ryan Tannehill four times, intercepted three Tannehill passes, and forced a fumble when Tannehill broke free on a scramble in the second quarter.
"We're not happy. Obviously you don't want to come out and perform like that," Tannehill said. "But you look at it and there are things you can correct."
Miami had some promising gains on the ground in the first half, but once New Orleans was able to open up a double-digit lead in the second half, the Dolphins could not afford to eat up valuable time with handoffs to Lamar Miller (who averaged 5.6 yards per rush).
Miami's supposedly revamped passing attack could not get it done. $60 million wide receiver Mike Wallace caught only three passes for 24 yards, with fellow highly-paid receiver Brian Hartline grabbing three receptions for 34 yards.
"This was definitely not the outcome we were looking for," Wallace said. "We came in with high expectations and it was a close game early on. But they scored a few touchdowns in a row and that forced us to play catch-up."
Miami's offensive line was once a strength of the team, but is now on pace to yield 64 sacks. They are not entirely to blame (more than a few sacks have come because Tannehill held onto the ball too long while the pocket collapsed around him), but it is hard for Miami's franchise quarterback to stay healthy and hit his receivers when so many plays end with him on the turf.
Miami has a short week to lick their wounds and make adjustments. The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens are visiting on Sunday.