Months ago, most pundits saw the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins as mediocre teams.
With the Saints coming off the repercussions of the bounty scandal and the Dolphins still forming an identity on the field, expectations were modest for both clubs. Heading into this week, the sides find themselves unbeaten ahead of their Monday Night Football clash tonight at 7:40 p.m. Cayman time on ESPN.
Drew Brees is the marquee name for tonight’s contest and said the Dolphins are a complete unknown.
“They’ll be the best opponent we’ve faced thus far. Here’s the thing, we’re pretty unfamiliar with them,” Brees said. “We played them in the preseason and that doesn’t give you much. We haven’t played them since ’09. I’d say their roster is much different than in ’09 and same with us.
“So these are two teams playing against one another that are pretty unfamiliar with each other. I’m looking at their personnel and I’m thinking, ‘Man, they’ve got some good personnel. They’ve got some great players.’ Offense and defense, they made a big splash in free agency.
“They’ve got a young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill who’s playing exceptionally well. So they’re dangerous. They play in a tough division and are built to last. That will be a great test. What more can you ask for: Monday Night Football, two undefeated teams?”
Under Tannehill, the Dolphins have shown grit in grinding out victories against the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons. New Orleans also did well to beat the Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. What has been surprising is the Saints offense, which has been ordinary. Brees said New Orleans’ ability to win while struggling to score points bodes well for the future.
“I think that’s a good sign. It’s a good sign that we haven’t played our best football yet and we’re 3-0. We have the type of guys that just won’t sit back and think, ‘Ah, we’re doing just fine and we’re kind of where we want to be.’ I think everybody to a man in the locker room knows we’ve got to get better.
“We’re turning on the film and seeing things we have to improve upon. So there’s a sense of urgency to improve, which you want. So the fact you’ve got guys smart enough and competitive enough to realize that is a good thing.”