NFL Preseason Week 1 Breakdown: Dolphins v. Falcons

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NFL football is finally back!  Many NFL fans say that they don’t get excited for the preseason, but for me it’s almost as exciting as the regular season. Teams are getting built, dreams are being made, and there are many players giving every last effort in hopes of making a roster. If you’re one of the many that just can’t get into it, I certainly understand, so for you I’m providing cliff notes for every preseason game played. I’ve locked myself away in the dungeon, far from sunlight watching each matchup and giving you quick updates on each team.

Atlanta Falcons (23) vs. Miami Dolphins (28)

The story that jumps off the tape is the Twin Falcons. Roddy White and Julio Jones are a dangerous combination. With their helmets on and the braids coming out from underneath it, they appear close to the same build and stature. While their style is different, the result is the same.  It’s like having cloned one of the top NFL receivers and placed him on the same team. It’ll be hard to defend the Twin Falcons this year. For all of their receiving tools, it may be their determination in blocking down field that make the two, so feared by opponents.

I made the case this offseason on why any team in need of a starting cornerback should gladly pay Atlanta the first round price to get Brent Grimes. Grimes apparently didn’t get the suitor I imagined. How did he respond? He just lived up to the label I gave him, “the spiderman of cornerbacks”. Grimes baited Chad Henne into a bad decision and used his spider sense to come down with the ball. We’ve seen him use this tactic before. Atlanta got great value from Grimes resigning.

The best coaches know to use the preseason as a time to have open competition at every position. Miami chose to instead name Chad Henne the starter and say that there will be no competition. The problem here is, as I expected, Matt More outplayed Henne in this game. Henne made bad decision after bad decision. Moore didn’t have a flawless outing but he showed the intangibles needed in a starting quarterback. On one throw Moore stayed in the pocket and followed through on a touchdown throw to Roberto Wallace, even though he knew doing so would set him up for a hard hit from the Falcons blitz.

Benny Sapp made several great plays in the secondary. He looked rejuvenated and made an impressive play on the ball to come up with an interception.

Brandon Harvey is a big target that ran great routes and made several catches. None more highlight worthy then the left foot, right foot toe-tap on the sideline. It’ll be hard for him to get reps with the talent on this roster though.

Lawrence Sidbury had a few pressures on the quarterback and forced some early throws. But it was Cliff Matthews that really surprised me on this defensive line. Cliff’s play was the first time I’ve seen something relevant out of a Falcons’ player wearing the #98 in quite some time. The former Gamecock is probably getting mentored from another former Gamecock defensive end on the team, John Abraham.

The players who stood out in special teams were the Falcons’ Dominique Franks and Dolphins’ Phillip Livas. They’re both great in this aspect for different reasons. Franks shows an insane amount of patience in the punt return duties for a guy who is only in his second year of doing it at this level. Livas is great on returns because he’s so decisive, fast and shifty. He caught my eye before he ran the one back for a touchdown. That was just the cherry on top.

I don’t know why a team in need of a running back didn’t offer Jason Snelling a contract. But just like Brent Grimes mentioned above, the ineptitude of other NFL teams, turns out to be for the better of the Falcons. The tandem of Michael Turner and Jason Snelling is a punishing one. They also have the luxury of sprinkling in a change of pace back as talented as Jacquizz Rodgers.

I was expecting to see more out of Daniel Thomas in this first game but instead the running back of choice was Kory Sheets. Sheets made the most of his carries and showed his stellar spin move that I’ve come to enjoy.

The biggest surprises of the game were Nate Ness and Jared Odrick. Ness show great athleticism in the Dolphins’ secondary and made several impressive plays. Odrick looked like he has missed football and wants to make a name for himself. He treated the O-line like a rag doll.  He moved well and just threw huge men around. I’m intrigued to see the rest of his preseason.

Worth noting: I thought the Falcons had a good team. But after watching this preseason game and seeing how all of the pieces mesh together, I realize that was an understatement. All of their moves work perfectly for what they’re doing. Even the ones that fell in their laps, like Grimes and Snelling.  This may be the team to knock off Philly.

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Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock