2012 NFL Preseason Review: Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins

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For the first time in recent memory the Atlanta Falcons went out and won a pre-season game as they beat the Miami Dolphins 23-6. It was a decent performance by the Falcons highlighted by not letting the Phins into the end zone.

Mike Nolan is waiting for the regular season to unleash the intricacies of his defense and in this game we had some good and we had some not so good stuff happen. The defensive line continues to get good pressure on the quarterback. Specifically, John Abraham and Kroy Biermann were in the pocket on multiple occasions.

Biermann made a nice tackle for a loss after beating Jake Long on the first drive and on the fourth drive he met Abe at the QB and Abe stripped Ryan Tannehill although the Phins recovered. Peria Jerry and Johnathon Babineaux also looked like they were getting some good penetration and Lawrence Sidbury had a nice play in the second half causing a fumble/turnover. Vance Walker also got into the action as well as he caused an intentional grounding call.

The play of the linebackers was also a little uneven but got better as the game went on. Early in the game (and on the first play in fact) the Falcons gave up some decent sized runs right up the middle. It looked like Akeem Dent overran a couple of plays causing a hole for the RB to turn back into. This was Dent's first game back from a concussion and it looked like he was still getting his feet under him. He actually played longer than the majority of the first team defense. Stephen Nicholas had some nice plays in pass coverage but the defensive play of the game was from Sean Weatherspoon. Spoon was able to deflect a pass over the middle and it lofted back into the secondary where Thomas DeCoud was able to intercept it and get a decent return.

The secondary look decent but some of that was Tannehill not being able to connect with his receivers and some of his receivers looking like they didn't want to catch the ball. Dunta Robinson gave up some plays on the third drive. He was in good position to make plays, he just didn't make them. Dunta did have a nice deflection on a corner blitz where Brent Grimes was almost able to come up with an interception. William Moore had one of the highlights of the game when he jarred the ball lose from the receiver on a violent hit.

Anytime you only give up six points, it's a good thing. Overall, the defense played well but definitely came away with some things to improve on. Third down seems to be an ongoing issue and some of the runs up the middle were concerning.

Matt Ryan definitely didn't have his best game but he still finished 18 of 26 for 220 yards and one TD. His night was highlighted by a picture perfect pass to Roddy White in the corner of the end zone early in the second quarter. Julio Jones had 4 catches for 90 yards but Ryan missed him deep on about three occasions. The Falcons did mix the ball around to a lot of players as four players caught at least three passes (including Harry Douglas) and six players had at least two receptions.

One thing that really worked for the offense was getting the ball to the backs in the passing game. Michael Turner has not looked good running the football in the pre-season but he has looked good as a receiver. He had 3 receptions for 36 yards with a long of 20. On the 20 yard gain he did a good job turning it up the field and getting yards after the catch. Another memorable "screen" was in the second half and Ryan avoided two rushers and got the ball to Jacquizz Rodgers and he weaved in and out of traffic for a first down. Antone Smith also had a good 20 yard reception in the second half out of the backfield. Getting the running backs involved definitely helped keep drives going on several occasions.

Dominique Davis didn't get into the game until the fourth quarter but he had one of the most memorable plays of the game as he hit Tim Toone on a picture perfect pass and catch for a 39 yard TD. There is simply no way he can be left off the roster. He has outplayed Chris Redman and JPW and has a bigger upside than both of them combined.

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