A bout of early fall illness has put me a day or so behind here on PhinPhanatic. A nagging wife on football Sunday is making me hurry up. At least she is a beautiful women! So with that said here is a look at the Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons.
Miami Vs. Atltanta’s Offense:
Pressure will be key but the Dolphins will be better served working disguised blitzes and a three to four man rush allowing help in the secondary. The Falcons have no starting RB this week with Steven Jackson out. They will rely on Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling. Both are capable but do not pose the same threats that Jackson could.
Putting pressure on Matt Ryan is key to keeping him off rhythm. Making him throw when he is not ready is paramount to taking two of the leagues best WR’s out of the game. Roddy White and Julio Jones. White is expected to play. The Dolphins must also find a way to contain TE Tony Gonzalez who is line for his first breakout game of 2013. After a slow start in weeks one and two, Gonzo will be looking to exploit a defense who regularly gives up big plays to the TE. For Miami, stopping the TE is paramount to success.
The Dolphins will be without starting NT Paul Solia but Miami should be able to plug Randy Starks into the line without missing a beat. Look to see more of Dion Jordan this week on the edge rush. NOTE: Jordan is trying to make up for his flub against Andrew Luck a week ago. He said he thought Luck had already thrown the ball when he attempted to push him in the pocket. Jordan won’t make that mistake again and it could be costly at times if the ball is actually gone by the time he gets there. Something to keep an eye on.
Dimitri Patterson will also be unavailable today which leaves the coverage of Roddy White on Chris Clemons. Will Davis and Jamar Taylor are both healthy and should see their first action of the year.
With a hit on the Atlanta Falcons running game, the loss of the team LT for the game will allow the Dolphins to get more pressure on Ryan. Look for Atlanta to use quick slant routes from their WR’s and slot WR. Harry Douglas a third wide-out could be used a lot today. The Falcons will use the quick throw to combat the pressure from Miami much the way Andrew Luck did last week. It’s why I would rush only 4 with blitz schemes disguised to keep an extra guy in coverage to handle that quick strike.
Dolphins Vs. Atlanta’s Defense
Miami did far better last week establishing the run but it was a far cry from where they want to be. Atlanta is 8th against the rush through two games and will be without a DE and a LB this Sunday. The Dolphins will try to take advantage of the injured line but expect the Falcons to try and force Miami to win on the arm and banged up shoulder of Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has been on the injury report with a shoulder injury. The Falcons will likely rush Tannehill often as they put pressure on an offensive line that is still working to find an even cohesion. The Dolphins too may have to look at a quick strike passing game.
Through two games the biggest knock on Tannehill is his inability to “feel” the pressure of the pocket collapsing and he tends to hold the ball too long. He needs to be far quicker making his reads this week. The Falcons are not a strong secondary team ranking 30th in the NFL in pass defense. The Dolphins should come out firing and use the running game to balance the passing attack. Play action and draws should work to off-set a passing rush. If successful the draw play could work to Miami’s advantage and take considerable pressure off Tannehill.
Fans want to know how Mike Wallace will fair this week after having his first “breakout” game a week ago for the Dolphins. Miami has found a weapon and the more Tannehill builds that relationship the better it will be. Wallace is determined to be a better pass catcher in Miami than he was in Pittsburgh and the Dolphins will need to feed him the ball. While Wallace will likely get the most looks it should be Charles Clay who has the bigger day offensively. With the Falcons putting pressure on Tannehill and likely playing six to seven in the box, Clay could see single coverage by a LB.
The Dolphins are favored for the first time this season but the Falcons have their heels against a wall already having lost in week one to New Orleans putting them a game back in the division. While that may not seem like a big deal in September on the first official day of Fall, it’s a big deal if you are in a tough division facing an opponent that on paper you should be able to beat. The Dolphins are improving every week and a win today will be more than a win in the standings but likely a catalyst to filling up the stadium again.
Both teams are primed for this game despite injuries for both sides and it’s likely that another nail biter will kick-off at four. So far I have been wrong for two weeks straight. Atlanta 24 – Miami 21