Didn't know how else to express myself. I've tried, like a good ol' boy, waiting patiently at 2:35 in the morning to open his Christmas presents at 8 am. Happy. Excited. WIRED. But I've been sitting on my hands, dormant, for way too long fellow Phinatics. Holy freakin' crap! We are 3-0!!!
This is by no means a declaration of content, nor is it to dismiss the remaining weeks in the NFL season. It is, however, a sigh of relief, a moment to pause and reflect, a time to recognize where we were and where we are. Perhaps I'm way too easy of a fan to please, but this 3-0 start has me feeling something I haven't felt in quite awhile. The thrill of an orgasm? Ehh, no, my wife's not pregnant anymore and her special spots are all back to their normal capabilities, so it's not that. Peace of mind? Now that my wife isn't pregnant, there's a child to take care of. So it's definitely not that. Oh yeah. A WINNING TEAM. OMG!!! (in your best valley girl voice) I root for a winning team!!!
Frankly, I've been a bit perplexed, as a fan, on how to feel about the team I love so dearly over the last 3 ball games. Should I hold everything in, assuming we will fack it up? Should I start running my mouth to fans of other teams? Have we arrived? Can we do this consistently? How do we measure up against the elite teams? I'm still nowhere near an answer. What I CAN attest to, is that, when I park my ass in that barstool, I know I will be drinking beer and watching a team that has my hopes as high as they've ever been. We can stroll into Foxborough with our nuts hanging out, flippin' every Pats fan the bird - and I will praise the motivational tactics of Coach Philbin. I have something I haven't had in awhile: authentic belief. I truly believe in this team, whether our nuts are hanging out or not. My cynicism and history as a Dolphins fan is trying to interfere with this belief, but it's really, really hard to ignore the fact that we are 3-0, beating 2 solid teams along the way. At the same time, I feel like I'm jinxing the team by writing a FanPost. Ugh, the banes of being a Dolphins fan.
Like any proficient addict, I'm trying to find a way to keep this high going. And by my estimation, here's our best chances (in no particular order) to beat the Saints, in New Orleans, who are 8-0 in their last 8 primetime games:
1. Balance offensively. When you look at the rankings, it's easy to jump in the "let's run the ball down their throat" bandwagon. BUT. If you ask a Saints fan about their weakness on defense, it's the secondary. Well, SUTTON, how does a weakness translate to being 4th in the league in pass yards against? Matt Ryan threw for over 300 yards against them. Josh Freeman, benched by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Carson Palmer brought the average WAY down. Each QB threw for under 200 yards. Simultaneously, Tampa Bay ran for 160 yards and Arizona averaged over 5 yards a carry. I think we can see how the stats are a bit convoluted. The Saints will make noise because they bring pressure - that's a Ryan family mentality. And Saints fans are correct in saying their defense is improved, but it's not so improved that we can't run AND pass effectively. Frankly, if we get the running game going and can set up play-action, I think we can keep pace with the New Orleans offense. Play-action will take advantage of a younger, "opportunistic" kind of defense trying to make plays. If we are to minimize the noise in the Superdome, it's because we own time of possession. We will be able to do that by mixing run and pass, and keeping the defense off-balance - by being balanced. Ironic, isn't it?
2. Get to Brees. One way to get Saints fans to shut up is to get after their boy. I'll refrain from saying that Brees could have been a Dolphin. Whoops, I just mentioned that Brees could have been a Dolphin. Oh well. One thing we DO know is that a) the Saints offensive line is mediocre, b) Brees has been sacked 10 times
4 times less than Ryan Tannehill, and c) we have the weapons to make it happen. Our run D has been suspect at times this year, but I just don't see Payton having the balls to have a run-heavy offensive game plan. And why would you when you have Drew Brees? The Saints undoubtedly put the game in his hands, and hopefully we are there for a strip-sack.
3. Contain Jimmy Graham. I trust Grimes against Colston. There's enough inter-division history to suggest that Grimes can at least keep Colston in check. But why do the Saints have to have such a baller at TE? His production is incredible and he is a match-up nightmare against our defense. They line him up all over the place, but his best production is split out wide. I don't know about you, but I would rather take my chances having Kenny Stills and Lance Moore win 1-on-1 match-ups and beat us than let Graham have a field day. If he's split wide, I'm putting 2 guys on him (man) or rolling coverage (zone) to make others beat us. He has been targeted 31 times already this year - he's clearly the focus of the passing game. My game plan is to make someone else beat us because I know for a fact that Jimmy Graham will...
I think we also need to be conscientious of Sproles. Historically, he's the kind of back that has destroyed us and getting him the ball in space makes me very nervous, especially considering our lackluster tackling. We must be aware of where he is at all times and wrap up when he gets the ball in his hands.
Perhaps my biggest thrill of all is that the media is still underestimating this team. I wrote a FanPost a while back about the media's crush on the Dolphins free agency moves early in the off-season. This early crush eventually gave way to skepticism, and then the season began. We have been under the radar since, and we continue to fly there. This makes me happy. I argued (in the FanPost way back when) that this team will come together when they only have themselves to rely on. No one is patting them on the back, no one is giving them anything. They haven't accomplished anything. They're still hungry.
Feed the wolf. Eventually, the media will recognize that we are a good team, deserving to be in the Playoff hunt. I'm relishing the fact that they haven't realized it yet, because everyone in the locker room believes it. Keep doubting us!
The main take I want from this weekend is that we belong with the elite teams in the NFL. I can see a win or a loss in a thousand different varieties come Monday night, but in every scenario, I see us as a team that challenges the Patriots for the AFC East crown RIGHT NOW.
Greetings from the Sutton family. Here's lookin' at 4-0...