The Miami Dolphins made their much anticipated return to the field earlier tonight in a 16-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. While it may have been their first real game action since December, it certainly didn’t seem that way for Ryan Tannehill and the first-team offense, who marched 73 yards on the opening possession to score the Dolphins’ lone touchdown of the night. The offense wasn’t the only thing that stood out, though, as there was plenty of action all over the field, and on both sides of the ball.
Here is what I took away from preseason game #1:
1. Fast Start On Offense
Much has been said about the formations and shifting of the offense installed by offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. I really liked the multiple sets and movement, especially the way it allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to operate in the opening series of the game. The Dolphins offense opened up with a shotgun, one back formation, and showed a little bit of the zone read with an outside screen wrinkle that adds pressure to defend the entire field for the defense. All of that leads to creases at the line of scrimmage that makes it easier on the running game. When Tannehill found wide receiver Rishard Matthews on a deep crossing route for 36 yards that put Miami into the red zone, it was the play action pass that allowed Matthews to find the open areas behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties. This type of scheme also works well close to the line of scrimmage as Lazor got creative and called a play action pass with slot receiver Brandon Gibson coming from the front side of the play and sneaking behind the line of scrimmage into the weak-side flat for an easy touchdown.
2. Tannehill’s Decisiveness
Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill looked poised and his execution was sharp as he led a 10 play scoring drive with the first team offense. The 10 play, 73-yard drive culminated in a six yard play-action touchdown pass to Gibson and these two won’t connect on an easier touchdown possibly all year. Although it was only one drive, it was easy to see that Tannehill has a firm grasp of the new offense, and should be poised to grow and progress, as the competition gets closer to reality. I really believe that Tannehill is at a point in his career that he needed an offense that would challenge him and a coordinator that would push him in ways he’s never been pushed before. Tannehill and the Dolphins will get better with this type relationship, and this offense should bring out the not only his mental side, but also his physical skill set.
3. Room For Improvement
It was only one drive for the first team defense, just like the offense, but I felt underwhelmed because this group is better than it performed. It seemed that this unit couldn’t find a way to make a play to get itself off the field. On the other hand, when it did make a play, the Falcons were bailed out by several penalties, allowing Atlanta to extend and convert three third down conversions on the touchdown drive. There were some positives from the defense, like Randy Starks‘ tackle for loss; Koa Misi‘s would be sack and activity in the stopping the run. But there were two many bodies leaving their feet and too many arm tackles for the first team defense. However this is to be expected, as this is only the second time the team has tackled to the ground this entire training camp.
News and Notes:
- The following players did not play: QB Matt Moore, QB Pat Devlin, WR Brian Hartline, WR Mike Wallace, TE Charles Clay, TE Michael Egnew, RB Knowshon Moreno, DE Olivier Vernon, C Mike Pouncey, RB Daniel Thomas, TE Harold Hoskins, TE Arthur Lynch, K Caleb Sturgis, and CB Jalil Brown.
- DE Terrence Fede flashed at times tonight. While still lacking a full understanding of the NFL game at this point, you can tell that he has a knack for making big plays, and he made a couple tonight.
- TE Brett Brackett shined with the second and third teams. He was the leading receiver tonight, with three catches for 57 yards, and made some nice moves after the initial catch.
- CB Will Davis had several pass breakups. He continues his string of great preseason play, as he had a strong showing last year as well.
- The return game looked impressive tonight, as Marcus Thigpen, Jarvis Landry, and Damien Williams all displayed big play ability. Landry returned a second quarter punt 48 yards, and nearly took it to the house.
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