Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaFeatured Columnist IVAugust 24, 2012

Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami

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    The Miami Dolphins lost to the Atlanta Falcons 23-6 in a game that included heavy wind and rain in the second half.

    The loss highlighted Miami's biggest flaws on offense, while their defense stepped it up and was aggressive and held back the Atlanta offense. The loss moves the Dolphins to 0-3 during the preseason, while Atlanta moves to 1-2.

    Here's a look at the Dolphins' final postgame grades and evaluations for each position.

Quarterbacks

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    Ryan Tannehill — C

    Ryan Tannehill got off to a very slow start, in the first quarter, which included a tipped pass that was picked off. 

    After that, Tannehill performed decently, showing good judgement and poise. This was especially true in his third drive of the game, when Tannehill went 4/8 for 54 yards. He would've had a touchdown however Anthony Fasano dropped a pass in the endzone.

    Tannehill continued to play decently despite an ever-collapsing pocket and continued drops by every wide receiver he threw it to not named Davone Bess. He would finish going 11 of 27 for 112 yards and an interception.

    His one problem was with tipped passes, which led to his first quarter interception as well as another close call.

    Matt Moore — F

    Moore was, well, not good tonight.

    After coming in halfway through the third quarter, Moore went 4/12 for 49 yards and fumbled the ball twice (with one of those fumbles being recovered by Atlanta.

    Even though Tannehill's performance ranged from decent and showing promise to uneven, Moore's performance was as deplorable as you could get, and showed why Tannehill won the starting job.

Running Backs

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    Reggie Bush — B-

    Bush saw limited action, only participating in the first two series of the game. He began the game with an 18 yard run, but after that would only gain -1 yard in his last four touches.

    Daniel Thomas — A+

    Thomas ran the ball very well, carries the ball six times for 29 yards (he was Miami's leading rusher). His rushing was key to opening up the offense for Ryan Tannehill, who had his best series of the game with Thomas in at running back. 

    Steve Slaton — D

    Steve Slaton didn't see much action, however in three carries he gained -2 yards and was not a factor in Miami's offense.

    Lamar Miller — B+

    Lamar Miller was effective while in the game for Miami. He had three rushes for 12 yards plus a catch for eight yards. He was the only part of the Dolphins offense that showed any effectiveness in the fourth quarter.

    Jorvorskie Lane — A

    Jorvorskie Lane played exceptional against Atlanta, as he provided a good security blanket for Tannehill out of the backfield on a catch that went for 10 yards while providing great blocking.

Wide Receivers

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    Davone Bess — A

    Davone Bess was the lone bright spot at wide receiver for Miami, and it looks like it will be something we're going to have to get used to. Bess had four receptions for 59 yards in the game and looked impressive while hauling in his catches.

    Clyde Gates — C

    Clyde Gates had one catch for 17 yards, however on another potential catch he lined up too close to the sideline and was only able to get one foot in bounds while making the catch. However he did an excellent job preventing an interception in the first half after a tipped Ryan Tannehill pass. Gates should get a spot on the team as their speed threat.

    Julius Pruitt — C

    Pruitt had one catch for nine yards, however didn't see much playing time with the first team. This will likely change come opening week.

    Legedu Naanee — D-

    Naanee dropped three passes from Tannehill in the opening series and at times seemed timid going up the middle. He did have one catch for eight yards in the second quarter.

    Rishard Matthews — C

    Matthews got some work in with the first team and made one catch for five yards.

Tight Ends

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    Anthony Fasano — D

    Fasano caught a case of the dropsies against Atlanta, dropping four passes. This included a dropped pass on third and goal that he had his grasp on before letting go of while he was in the end zone. He would finish his night with two catches for 18 yards, but he could've had so much more.

    Charles Clay — C

    Targeted three times, Clay couldn't seem to make a catch. But in fairness to him (and unlike with Fasano), those passes weren't very catchable.

Offensive Line

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    Jake Long — B

    Other than a holding call that went against Long at the end of the first half, he was his usual rock solid self while in the game.

    Richie Incognito — B+

    Incognito continued his usually stellar play with another good game. Not too many people got buy the Dolphins left offensive line.

    Mike Pouncey — B-

    Pouncey had a couple of issues blocking during the game. A few times players would get up the middle after the snap, putting more pressure on Tannehill. 

    John Jerry — B-

    Jerry showed improvement during this game, however at times he still had problems containing his blocks. He'll likely make the team, but I still wouldn't pencil him in as a starter just yet. At least he didn't throw up over himself.

    Jonathan Martin — C-

    And this is an improvement. While Martin wasn't as bad as his Dolphins career had started, his footwork needs a lot more work. He also has a tendency to not follow through on his blocks, causing the pocket to collapse.

Defensive Line

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    Cameron Wake — A+

    This defensive line is a different beast with Cameron Wake in the game. He recorded 1.5 sacks and was in the Atlanta backfield for seemingly the whole night. He's one large reason why the Dolphins defense held Atlanta's first team offense to two field goals.

    Olivier Vernon — B

    Vernon didn't get into the Falcons backfield as much as Wake, but made plenty of plays during the game to affect Atlanta's offense. He did however get half a sack at the end of the second quarter with Wake, showing the potential he and Wake have to be forces when rushing the passer.

    Paul Soliai/Randy Starks — B

    Soliai and Starks clogged up the middle very efficiently to help hold Atlanta's running game to only 69 yards on the ground, while helping with the pass rush and creating pressure.

Linebackers

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    Koa Misi — B

    Koa Misi turned in a good performance at linebacker, recording two tackles and an assist. He (and the other linebackers) also managed to contain Tony Gonzalez, who had only four catches for 26 yards.

    Gary Guyton — B

    Guyton was active when he was in the game, recording three tackles and two assists. He was a big help in covering Atlanta's tight ends while at times getting into the backfield when needed.

    Austin Spitler — B

    With three tackles and three assists, Spitler showed a lot this evening. Whenever he was near the ball carrier he was always ready to hit, and a few times on pass rushes he got into the pocket with ease.

    Jason Trusnik — B+

    Trusnik added two tackles and an assist of his own while also containing any running backs or tight ends that were able to get through the defensive line. He and the rest of the linebacking corps did a splendid job filling in for Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, who both missed the game nursing minor injuries.

Secondary

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    Sean Smith — B

    Smith did an excellent job containing his receiver throughout the night. He also had a few plays where he was at the right place at the right time, but came through for Miami with a much-needed tackle. This is especially true early in the game when Smith came through with a stop on an Atlanta running play on fourth down and two. However Smith did have a very costly penalty during the opening drive that gave Atlanta new life after Miami had forced them three-and-out.

    Richard Marshall — C+

    Marshall was decent in his third game as the starter, however he got beat on a 49-yard pass play from Matt Ryan to Roddy White early in the second quarter. He was able to make the tackle, however he had assistance from safety Reshad Jones.

    Vontae Davis — B-

    Vontae Davis' slow but steady improvement continues. While he didn't get beat much at nickleback, he did get an interception. This was the good news. The bad news was the interception was the result of him throwing the intended receiver down. This called back the interception (which he returned for a touchdown) as it was off-set by an Atlanta penalty.

    Reshad Jones — B

    Jones was active tonight in his role, accumulating three tackles. He helped prevent the long pass from Ryan to White from becoming a touchdown by assisting Marshall on the tackle.

    Chris Clemons — B

    Very quiet night for Clemons, who only recorded one tackle.

    Jimmy Wilson — B-

    Wilson also had a very quiet night as he didn't record any tackles, however he wasn't beaten on any plays either and was active in the secondary.

Special Teams

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    Dan Carpenter — B+

    Carpenter went 2/2 on field goals including a 52-yard field goal in the third quarter. Much like the last couple of seasons he was Miami's offense, only there were no fist pumps to be had. On kickoffs he managed to force touchbacks on two of his kickoffs, while another one was fielded at the Atlanta two-yard line (and ran back 40 yards).

    Brandon Fields — A++

    Nothing negative can be said about Brandon Fields' performance. His seven punts (way too many punts, but then again one punt is one too many) totaled 338 yards and averaged 48.3 yards per kick, with his longest being a 58 yard punt.

    Marcus Thigpen — B+

    The fact that Lamar Miller hasn't fielded any punts or kickoffs during the preseason tells me that Miami plans on using him primarily on offense as a receiver or to give Reggie Bush a break (you can't keep a weapon like that on the shelf and with the logjam at running back, it would only make sense to use him as a return-man for this season).

    Thigpen is a suitable returnman, but not too flashy, in much the same vein as Davone Bess. He doesn't seem like the type to give you any Devin Hester-esque runs (again, Lamar Miller would do that), but he keeps control of the ball.

    His stats show four kick returns for a total of 75 yards and a long of 26 (and one punt return for eight yards while his other punt returns were either not fielded or fair-caught), but he did make a savvy play on one Atlanta kickoff in the third quarter when he caught the ball with one foot out of bounds.

    This placed the ball at the Miami 40-yard line and would lead to a 52 yard Dan Carpenter field goal.

Coaching

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    Joe Philbin — C+

    Joe Philbin did succeed in his only challenge of the game, a smart challenge that overturned an egregious call. For that he gets an A.

    However I was wondering about much of the packages used and why some receivers were or were not on the first team. I understand that we're still in the preseason (and a feeling-out period), however why wasn't Roberto Wallace or Julius Pruitt on with the first team, yet we got a steady diet of Legedu Naanee?

    How is Tannehill supposed to create a much-needed rapport with the current receivers when the first-teamers keep changing? Especially since this being the third preseason game, it was the closest to a real game. Is Naanee really getting the second starting job over Wallace or Pruitt (who seemed to have a good connection with Tannehill)? Or is that second wide out slot just being kept warm for Brian Hartline?

    Either way there are questions about Philbin that won't be answered until the season actually starts. But for now it seems like everything about this team is consistently inconsistent.