The Miami Dolphins started the 2014 preseason the same way the team ended the 2013 regular season, with a loss, this time 16-10 to the Atlanta Falcons. Still, there were several good things the team can focus on as they head back to training camp.
In his only drive of the night, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 6-6 for 62 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass came on a six-yard pass to Brandon Gibson. Tannehill was sharp throughout the drive and the much-ballyhooed offensive line gave him time and opened running lanes.
Tannehill hit three different receivers on the drive and Lamar Miller accounted for 20 yards on the drive including a power run on third and 1 on the Dolphins’ 48-yard line. Miller went behind right guard and plowed ahead for four yards and a first down to keep the drive alive.
That was the good news for the Dolphins’ starters. The bad news is the starting defense couldn’t tackle anyone and allowed the Falcons’ offense to march right back down the field and punch in a touchdown just before the first quarter ended.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was perfect on the drive going 7-7 for 53 yards while running back Jacquizz Rodgers contributed 20 yards and the touchdown run.
The Dolphins’ defense also helped the Falcons out on the drive with a penalty on safety Louis Delmas that wiped out a six yard sack by Koa Misi. The Fins also lost out on a holding penalty against Jake Matthews when safety Reshad Jones was flagged for illegal use of hands.
The final penalty against the Dolphins on the Falcons’ opening drive was a roughing the passer penalty against Philip Wheeler for hitting Ryan high. That set the Falcons up on the two yard line and the teams’ offensive line cleared a path for Rodgers into the end zone.
Overall, the Dolphins’ starting offense had a good performance to build off of moving forward. But, it was also against a defense that will not likely be anywhere near the top of the NFC by the end of the regular season.
As for the Dolphins defense, it has one mission, especially for the linebackers: tackle, tackle, tackle, tackle.
The Dolphins return to the field next weekend in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers. The starters are expected to play into the second quarter if not longer next weekend. The third preseason game, the so-called dress rehearsal for the regular season will be at Sun Life Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys.