DAVIE, Fla. -- There are a lot of interesting matchups in Monday's battle of undefeated teams between the Miami Dolphins (3-0) and New Orleans Saints (3-0). One that stands out most is a pair of weaknesses for both clubs.
The Dolphins struggle running the football, and the Saints have had issues stopping the run. Something has to give when these two unbeatens clash on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Miami is 28th in rushing at 70.3 yards per games. New Orleans is 20th in run defense, allowing 111.3 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry.
Miami has been unable to get its running game going through three games. It’s been a combination of poor blocking by the offensive line and the tailbacks being unable to elude tacklers. The Dolphins are averaging just 3.2 yards per rush, which has prompted them to throw more with second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
The Dolphins finally showed early signs of life in the first half with a 49-yard run by starting tailback Lamar Miller last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. However, Miami rushed for just 41 yards on 14 carries the rest of the game.
“Lamar hits that long run, then we are in-and-out of it a little bit,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. “It never really felt like we got it unleashed.”
This would be a good time for the Dolphins to get back to running the football more efficiently. Controlling the clock on the road will be key for the Dolphins, who must keep New Orleans' high-powered offense off the field. The Saints have been terrific rushing the passer once they get a lead this year. But they have struggled stopping the run when teams come right at them.
It’s stunning to think that Tannehill is playing this well with virtually no help from Miami’s running game. Tannehill has a 94.3 passer rating and has been terrific in the second half. He was 9-of-12 passing on the final touchdown drive in Miami’s 27-23, come-from-behind win over the Falcons.
But Miami cannot continue to be one dimensional on offense and expect to beat quality teams. The Dolphins will need their running game this week if they want to remain undefeated.