ReFo: NO @ MIA, Preseason WK 4
Thomas Maney looks at a competitive game that featured mostly backups trying to make the team and earn more playing time.
ReFo: NO @ MIA, Preseason WK 4
In your typical fourth preseason game, we didn’t get to see many, if any, starters from either the Saints or Dolphins. We did get to see some notable performances by established backups and those fighting for final roster spots and they gave us a competitive, exciting game.
Let’s take a look at who stood out for both sides, good or bad.
New Orleans – Three Performances of Note
Up and Down Performance for White
One player likely on the bubble this preseason is second-year defensive back Corey White. Looking only at the first half of his rookie season, you might be surprised to find him still on the roster at this point; he compiled a grade of -11.0 in those six games. However, he bounced back in his last three games before going down to injury. Thus far his preseason has most closely resembled those final three, as he was at +2.8 entering this game.
Miami attacked White early and often in this game; he was targeted more than twice as often as any other Saint DB, allowing seven catches on 11 passes into his coverage for 141 yards and two touchdowns. There were some bright spots though, as he made three stops in a strong effort against the run – good enough for a +1.7 grade in that area. He also got his hands on a couple of balls in coverage with two pass defenses, one a nice play on a back shoulder throw to Chad Bumphis. Unfortunately, he immediately followed that play by allowing the go-ahead 56-yard touchdown with three minutes remaining in the game. Surely that’s not the way he wanted to end his preseason with roster cuts upcoming.
Ready To Play
It’s safe to say at this point that Glenn Foster will not be among the players released by the Saints – Sean Payton has said as much with previous comments that Foster has not been competing for a roster spot, but rather for playing time. For the fourth time this preseason Foster graded positively to bring his cumulative grade to +11.2, the highest among all 3-4 defensive ends. Against Miami, he played just 21 snaps, but was as disruptive as any defender on the team. He compiled three QB hits, the most impressive of which came at 8:20 of the second quarter, as he bulled left guard Sam Brenner straight back to put a shot on Pat Devlin, who threw an interception on the play.
Where do they find these guys?
In yet another case of the Saints finding a late round or undrafted gem at running back, Khiry Robinson continued his fine preseason display as he received his highest workload of the preseason. He gained 5.3 YPC on his 22 carries while forcing six missed tackles. That brings his total to 24 total forced missed tackles this preseason, the highest number of any running back, also tying him for the league-lead in our Elusive Rating. Even when his runs weren’t going for long gains, Robinson was a load to bring down on nearly every single one – his one yard gain at 2:22 of the third quarter a testament to that fact.
His work in the receiving game hasn’t been bad either, as he caught six passes for 50 yards in this game to go along with five catches in his previous three games. On another team there would be no doubt that Robinson makes the roster, but with New Orleans’ loaded backfield – even with the departure of Chris Ivory earlier this offseason – the team has a tough decision on its hands.
Miami – Three Performances of Note
Playing all but two offensive snaps, quarterback Pat Devlin didn’t put forth a terribly convincing argument for making the Miami 53 man roster. His -1.1 in this game dropped him to -4.0 for the preseason – looking solely at his passing, he’s been even worse at -5.3. Against the Saints he completed 22 of 34 aimed passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also matched his touchdown total in interceptions. Devlin was at his worst under pressure – on those 12 drop backs, he threw for just a 2.6 YPA and took three sacks, earning a 10.7 QB rating on those plays.
He did finish strongly, though, as he brought the Dolphins back late in the fourth quarter, which included a perfect pass to Marvin McNutt for the go-ahead 56 yard touchdown. However, will that be enough to earn him a roster spot? We’ll see shortly whether Miami elects to keep a third quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore.
A good game from someone we’re not accustomed to seeing play very well. Vauhn Martin’s +2.5 in 32 snaps was tied for the defense’s highest grade. What flashes he has shown before have generally been in run defense, rather than as a pass rusher, and that held true in this game. His four stops led the team, as he beat Marcel Jones several times. He was also in on the hit that forced a Mark Ingram fumble in the first quarter. His pass rushing wasn’t completely inept, though, as Martin picked up a sack on an inside stunt later in the game.
It’s difficult to expect much from a player who graded -12.8 last season with the Chargers and -13.1 the year before, as well as -5.3 through the preseason coming into Thursday’s game. At least he’s shown some flashes and capability of playing well, albeit against backups. We’ll see when the final cuts come out whether the Dolphins will give Martin another opportunity to show it against starters.
On the surface, two receptions allowed on four targets for 23 yards appears to mark a pretty ordinary, if not good, performance by a cornerback. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story in the case of R.J. Stanford (-4.1). On both allowed receptions he proceeded to miss his tackle attempt on Nick Toon. And on the other two targets, he was beaten, but benefited from blunders by the Saints offense; once an overthrow by Ryan Griffin, the other a drop by Preston Parker. Stanford was also flagged for a costly pass interference penalty on a deep route late in the fourth quarter. In run defense, he did make a tackle for no gain, but negated that by later being sealed to the outside. Unlike players such as Martin and Khiry Robinson, it was not a great performance to end his preseason on with his job on the line.
– Against Miami, the Saints defense didn’t play a single snap with fewer than four down linemen.
– The Dolphins finished the preseason with the fourth-lowest cumulative offensive rating and tied for the lowest defensive rating.
– The Saints ended the preseason with three of the top six graded 3-4 DEs.
PFF Game Ball
This one goes to Marvin McNutt for getting behind the Saints’ defense late in the fourth quarter for what turned out to be the game-winning score.
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