Nicholas Tecce

Graham Will Host A Fish Fry On Monday Night Football

Created on Sept. 29, 2013 4:45 AM EST

Coming off an impressive offensive showing against the Arizona Cardinals, the undefeated New Orleans Saints are will play host to a gritty Miami Dolphins team in Week 4. The Dolphins enter the game with a 3-0 record of their own and have looked impressive on the road, defeating the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts in their first two games. Miami is in store for quite a different challenge this time around as they must battle the prolific offense of the Saints. Although the Saints rank outside the Top 10 in points scored, they do average over 400 yards from scrimmage per game.

A troubling theme has become apparent for the Dolphins and their defense despite this impressive and somewhat surprising start. That startling problem is their inability to guard against the tight ends of the opposing team. Saints fans and fantasy owners of New Orleans TE Jimmy Graham alike should be chomping at the bit after learning this. Graham is leading the league at the tight end position in several categories, including yards per game, total yards, touchdowns and receptions. Thus far, Graham has 23 receptions for 358 yards, four touchdowns and back to back 100-yard games on the season.

In their opening game against the Browns, the Dolphins had no answer for TE Jordan Cameron, who finished the game with nine receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. Their Week 2 matchup against the Colts provided a similar storyline - TE Coby Fleener had four receptions for 69 yards and one score. Miami did manage to keep Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez in check last week in their only home game, however, as he only registered a meager four catches for 24 yards.

Were the Dolphins improvements against Atlanta a step in the right direction or will they revert back to their woeful ways that they fell prey to in their two road games this season?

Miami is in for a long day if the latter is true, as waiting in the wings is arguably the league’s most explosive tight end. Saints QB Drew Brees targets Graham as much as most teams target their No. 1 wide receiver, so Miami will have to pay special attention to Graham and defend him as if he were a wide out.

Graham reminded people of how dominant he can be and why he deserves to be viewed as the league’s best tight end when he ran wild against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. Graham accumulated an astonishing 156 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown before halftime. Tampa regrouped at halftime and blanketed him with double coverage in the second half, holding him to only 23 yards, but the damage had already been done. Graham followed up that monster performance with a dominant display against the Cardinals, recording nine catches for 134 yards with two touchdowns.

Miami should follow the defensive scheme the Falcons used in their Week 1 showdown with the Saints, as they held Graham to just four receptions totaling 45 yards. They did surrender a touchdown to Graham but other than that, they held him in check. 

The short and simple storyline for this matchup is, if the Dolphins can guard against Graham, they give themselves a fighting chance. If they allow Graham to have his way and run up and down the field, the Dolphins secondary is going to be spending a lot of time staring at the back of Graham’s jersey and Miami will suffer its first loss.

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