Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackAfter losing to the Saints in the opener, the Falcons should probably not take any team lightly. However, when they see the New England Patriots looming ahead on the schedule, it may be hard to get excited about the Dolphins. Matt Ryan will need to be close to his best against an aggressive and improving Miami defense.The Dolphins haven’t been a viable NFL team in many seasons, but that could be in the process of turning around this year. Not only have they gotten off to a solid 2-0 start, Ryan Tannehill didn’t receive the notoriety of other top rookie quarterbacks, but he is a sharp signal caller and he can find the weaknesses in a defense and exploit them.
- OffenseSteven Jackson scored the opening touchdown of the game after taking a pass from Ryan, but he bruised his thigh on the play and did not return. His status against Miami has not been determined. Julio Jones and Roddy White were limited in practice all week but both played vs. St. Louis and Jones was sensational. They should have an advantage over the Miami secondary.The Dolphins don’t have a scary offense, but they are getting much better. Lamar Miller had 69 yards and gave them a credible running game. However the big moment for the Dolphins came from former Steeler Mike Wallace, who caught 9-115-1, and he will challenge the Falcons defense. Charles Clay and Brian Hartline are solid secondary threats for this improving team.
- DefenseThe Falcons got off to a rousing start against the Rams, but the defense was quite vulnerable in the second half and that’s an issue going forward. Much of the pressure in this game will be on cornerback Robert McClain, who may have to match up with Wallace. Sean Weatherspoon is perhaps the hardest hitting linebacker on the team.The Dolphins went on the road and controlled Andrew Luck and what was a high-powered offense a year ago. The Dolphins play defense with a lot of quickness and they appear to have a very good idea of what their opponents will do since they are rarely fooled. Keep your eye on outside linebacker Philip Wheeler, who had 12 tackles and 1.0 sacks against Indianapolis.
- Special TeamsThe Falcons are capable of winning games on special teams. Matt Bryant is one of the most dependable placekickers in the league, while punter Matt Bosher has a huge leg. He averaged 53.0 yards per punt against the Rams. Harry Douglas has excellent speed and he has the ability to turn any game around with his punt return ability.The Dolphins are going with Caleb Sturgis as their kicker, and he nailed a 53-yuard field goal against the Colts. Brandon Phillips does not have an exceptionally strong leg as a punter, but he does get good direction and can drop his punts inside the opponents’ 20 with regularity.
This will be an easy game for the Falcons to overlook, so head coach Mike Smith has to make sure that his team is not thinking about the Patriots in Week Four. Miami is a good enough team to beat this legitimate NFC contender and look for the Dolphins to outlast the visitors if Tannehill is sharp. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor