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Falcons Vs Dolphins: What To Watch For Specifically Saturday Night


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Falcons vs Dolphins: What to watch for specifically Saturday night

By Allen Strk

A list of the most significant things to watch for during Saturday's game. We may begin to see which players will start and/or make the roster this season.

The most pivotal pre-season game has arrived. Atlanta's first-string team should finally be tested on Saturday against the Miami Dolphins. From out-scoring the opposing first-team opponents by a combined score of 31-0, a challenge is on the horizon. Miami was one of the most aggressive teams in the off-season. They look primed to make the next step of becoming a playoff team. After playing against below-average offenses in Tennessee and the New York Jets, the restored Atlanta defense will be tested against rising star Ryan Tannehill and his array of options.

The entire offensive line will be put on notice

Instead of focusing primarily on the interior line, the play of both tackles should be watched closely as well. When it comes to fearsome defensive lines, Miami possesses one of the top units. Ndamukong Suh is going to be a nightmare for the likes of James Stone and Chris Chester. His presence will lead to Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon having plenty of one-on-one opportunities. It'll be vital for Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder to keep Matt Ryan inside the pocket as much as possible. Wake's power and long arms makes him one of the more versatile pass-rushers in the league.

After looking stable in pass protection against Tennessee and New York, the real challenge will present itself here. This should be a stern test in preparation for an underrated Eagles' pass rush. Stone and Chester were underwhelming as run blockers last week. Leonard Williams beat Chester on multiple occasions at the point of attack. As dependable as he is on the move, the former Redskin has a tendency of struggling against defensive tackles on one-on-one situations. Both players need a solid performance, as Jon Asamoah received first-team reps last week against the Jets. The training camp battle to secure both starting guard spots could be decided here.

Cornerback depth will be tested once again

Last week, the cornerback rotation faced two massive wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. They weren't tested very often, due to Ryan Fitzpatrick being extremely conservative. Tannehill will prove to be a significant upgrade that will test Atlanta's secondary. Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, Kenny Stills, and Greg Jennings pose a sturdy test for the young secondary. Landry's crafty route running as a slot receiver has given nickel cornerbacks fits on a weekly basis last season.

Whether Robert Alford or Philip Adams covers Landry, they will need to be technically sound. Marshall beat Adams on a few occasions last week to nobody's surprise. This could be a vital week for him in securing the nickel cornerback spot. With Jalen Collins suffering from growing pains, this could very well be Adams' job to lose. Let's not forget that Kevin White and Dezmen Southward will be competing for a roster spot as well. Southward looks stiff and hasn't been able to close down receivers in one-on-one situations. The former third-round pick's roster status looks to be in serious jeopardy.

Revamped defensive looking to impose their will

Atlanta's first-string defense has recorded consecutive shutouts in two pre-season games. The defensive line deserves major credit, especially without Desmond Trufant and William Moore in coverage last week. They've utilized stunts efficiently and haven't depended on blitzing to generate pressure. Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Jonathan Babineaux, and O'Brien Schofield have shown glimpses of causing havoc. Fitzpatrick was harassed excessively throughout the first half.

Besides maintaining consistency, the challenge is now set on the defensive alignment on first down. When Fitzpatrick was comfortable in the pocket, it was on first down and the defensive line was using Tyson Jackson or Grady Jarrett on the edge. The concept of playing a 290 to 300 pound lineman on the edge in a 4-3 defense always seems risky. They simply can't generate the same type of pass-rush as a natural edge player. This is vital in a pass-first league, where offenses utilize play-action frequently on first down. Could Adrian Clayborn or Kroy Biermann receive more opportunities on first down? Both edge rushers can play the run fairly well. If you can criticize anything about the first-string defense this pre-season, it has been the lack of pressure on first down.

Tight ends being more utilized within the offense

This subject may not be classified as highly important, but it's still imperative for the tight ends to become more involved. Jacob Tamme has been receiving rave reviews throughout training camp. Roddy White has even labeled him as "I Catch Everything" in reference of his ability. So far, the veteran tight end has only received one target through two games. It would be encouraging to see him catch a few passes, considering his reliability within making catches through traffic and being a prototypical tight end that can move the chains.

Tony Moeaki has been limited as well. A sense of optimism surrounded signing him through the free-agency period. While his health will always be questioned, Moeaki is very athletic and can help stretch the field. Both players will receive the majority of first-team snaps. Levine Toilolo could be employed as an extra tight end on goal-line situations. Dirk Koetter's failure of not getting the six-foot-eight tight end involved in the red zone proved to be detrimental at times last season. With Kyle Shanahan's reputation of producing solid production out of tight ends, Toilolo may play a bigger part than most fans would expect this season. All three players need to make their presence felt on Saturday.

"Hank Time" becomes full time in first-team offenses

It was reported that Roddy White has undergone minor elbow surgery this week. That will propel Leonard Hankerson into the starting lineup this week. The training camp standout has made a few crafty catches through two games. With the first-team offense likely playing the entire first half on Saturday, Hankerson will receive ample opportunities to continue proving his value. The former Redskin has showcased excellent route running through beating Antonio Cromartie on a slant last week. He also made a key third-down catch against Tennessee on the opening drive.

Besides Clayborn, there is growing optimism that Hankerson will prove to be the ultimate bargain deal of free agency. Matt Ryan already seems to be growing trust with him through consecutive games. Per Roddy White gradually aging, the talented receiving corps will receive more reps on Saturday. Justin Hardy has been slightly disappointing from dropping three passes in two games so far. Devin Hester will always be a threat, but isn't suitable for a full-time wide receiver role. Hankerson's size, speed, and route running should give Miami's underwhelming cornerbacks' fits (with the exception of Brent Grimes). We may witness a showcase game from him.


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Why do so many think Tannenhill is going to suddenly break out? It's been four years. He's as good as he's gonna get which is above average. And their receiving corps? Come on.

I think what he is implying is that even at "above average" Tannehill is enough to better the Falcon's below average defense

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Why do so many think Tannenhill is going to suddenly break out? It's been four years. He's as good as he's gonna get which is above average. And their receiving corps? Come on.

Tannehill has improved every year with mostly a bare receiving corps....he has went from Wallace and clay to Parker, landry, stills. Cameron. That's a significant upgrade.

Did Matt Ryan peak after 4 years?

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Tannehill has improved every year with mostly a bare receiving corps....he has went from Wallace and clay to Parker, landry, stills. Cameron. That's a significant upgrade.

Did Matt Ryan peak after 4 years?

I think it's taken a while for him to get the mental part down. That's why he holds on to the ball forever.

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Yea but what weapons? None of those guys has ever had a 1000 yard season.

We aren't talking about the defense. Adding Suh is a plus but they had Wake and Grimes and Vernon etc and still won 8 games.

What average QB in NFL history got better because of new WRs were added to the roster?

I can't think of one.

This guy was sacked 139 times in the past 3 years. That's over 46 times a year on average. New WRs will not fix that. Ryan despite his line the last two years was never sacked that much.

Suh can't protect the QB and stop the check downs. Their leading reciever had 84 catches and averaged 9.0 yards a catch. This guy was under such duress he couldn't complete a deep ball.

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Nothing about coleman or Freeman?

Not in the OP article. However, Vaughn McClure posted the following article today:

Rookie Tevin Coleman gets chance to jump-start Falcons' running game in Miami
Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

The Atlanta Falcons play their third game of the preseason at 7 p.m. ET Saturday vs. the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Here’s a couple things to watch for during the game:

Why watch: Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn said rookie running back Tevin Coleman, who suffered a left hamstring strain during the first week of training camp, should be "ready to rock" against the Dolphins barring any last-minute setbacks before kickoff. Coleman's debut is much-anticipated, considering he's been touted as a serious challenger for the starting running back role. Before both Coleman and Devonta Freeman suffered hamstring injuries, Freeman was well in front in the race. And with Freeman unlikely to play in Miami, Coleman has a chance to make up some ground with a strong performance. It won't be easy against a Dolphins defense led by arguably the most dominant defensive tackle in the league, Ndamukong Suh. The Falcons haven't really gotten their running game going this preseason without Coleman and Freeman in the lineup and with Antone Smith sidelined by his own hamstring strain after the first preseason game. Through two preseason games, the Falcons averaged 1.9 yards per carry on 53 rushes with Jerome Smith, Michael Ford, Antone Smith and Terron Ward combining for 48 of those carries.

Also, watch the Falcons' offensive line to see how they carrying out the zone-blocking scheme to open holes for Coleman, as well as how the line pass-protects against Suh, Cameron Wake and company.

Did you know: The most receptions any Falcons wide receiver ever had in one game against the Dolphins was nine by Julio Jones on Sept. 22, 2013. He had 115 receiving yards that day but the Dolphins won 27-23.

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I see Falcons should just forfeit and cry because they have never seen a power house like Miami....

It's good to see Hawley will lock down suh and others because he was not called out once in this article

Hawley is going to be thoroughly tested tonight. I could see him struggle. So will Stone for that matter, or the entire line actually. We'll see though. Edited by Atlfanstckndenver
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To piggy back onto thats what she said, I will also be looking at a couple of things tonight.

1-We get to see how the offense and defense adjust as the game progresses, especially coming in one more drive after the half. We have seen that both sides start fast the first two weeks. Now we get to see if we sustain that high intensity.

2-We get to see a potential starter in the run game.

3-Unfortunately we should still get to see the scrub defense piss away a lead late.

4-We get to see if any back up QB responds to the nudge.

5-I want to see how Collins and Southward are progressing conidering their late starts. Big leaps would be reassuring. Also hoping to see King doing the same.

6-Same goes for my young OT's Rodgers and Huffer, but really next game will be best barometer for these guys.

7-Lastly, he get to see how Quinn handles the team for more of the game managing his guys, rather than camp bodies.

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