October 24, 2009

Wild(cat) Miami Nights and Notes

  • The Saints head into Miami to face Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Joey Porter and Jason Taylor Sunday afternoon, a 4:15EST kickoff that will be dark by the fourth quarter.

  • Brown and Williams are the foci of the Dolphins' dangerous Wildcat offense, leading the NFL in average time of possession (35:29). This is the offense that held the ball for over 45 minutes against the Colts, though because of defensive lapses, Peyton Manning still won. The Dolphins have won the time of possession battle the past four games, and despite their current 2-3 standing have just the kind of offense to beat the Saints. It also worked against Manning's high-powered offense.

  • One reason the Dolphins are so good at controlling the clock is their league leading third down conversion rate of 56%, a number that is five big ticks higher than the second place Colts.

  • Furthermore, the Saints will be without starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita, out with a calf injury and replaced by special teams captain Troy Evans. The situation is a bit of a double-whammy for the Saints, as Evans will logically be limited in his special teams snaps. Second year LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, also a stud on special teams, will likely get playing time on defense as well.

  • The Saints, by the way, are fifth best in time of possession, averaging 33:51 per game, and are fourth best in third down conversions with 46%.

  • On defense, the Saints are second in the league, allowing only a 27% third down conversion rate. The Dolphins are 11th, allowing 36%.

Other notes:

  • We're not sure who thinks they're winning this one, but 8 of 11 FBS NCAA conferences are refusing to give the NFL their game tape without $20-30 million in recompense. The schools have always provided the NFL with game tape for free - it's in the best interest of their soon-to-be-millionaire alumni. A dubiously-motivated private company is behind the current impasse. The 2010 NFL Draft is going to be very interesting.

  • On that topic as an aside, for as good as LSU WR Jojo Lafell is, he's not the best receiver on his team. Terrance Toliver is NFL ready, right now.

  • The Saints are tied with the Vikings for second in the NFL in red zone touchdowns (9), and TE Jeremy Shockey has three of them.

  • One of our favorite football blogs opines at length about WR Reggie Bush (not a typo) and compares him to two other runningbacks who made the switch to wideout.

  • MLB Jonathan Vilma's touchdown-erasing roughing the passer penalty against the Giants hurts even more now. First, it wiped out a Darren Sharper pick six, then it wiped $10k out of Vilma's wallet.

  • QB Drew Brees has been named Fedex Air Player of the Week for his performance last week against the Giants, the third time in five games for Brees.

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