Several players made appearances for the first time this preseason, several continued their streak of good play, and some still showed they they need more time to get ready for the season.
Though the end result was a 16-6 loss, there is a lot that can be taken from this game.
Vontae Davis—Davis had an impressive game. He got flagged for an illegal-contact penalty, but he made several break-ups and forced a fumble. He seemed fluid in his movements, and kept his man covered tightly when not playing soft coverage.
Karlos Dansby—Dansby showed why he will be an asset to this defense. He played solidly in coverage, blanketing his man over the middle, which was an issue for the defense last season. Tony Gonzalez made a couple catches over the middle, but Dansby, for the most part, played great in coverage.
Marlon Moore—Moore only had one play that stood out, but it did so in a big way. He carried the ball on an end around and showed great speed and movement around the edge. He took a pretty hard hit, but held on to the ball and put in the effort to make the first down. With Camarillo being traded, Moore will likely get a great opportunity to catch on with the Dolphins.
Benny Sapp—the new acquisition in the trade between Minnesota and Miami saw some playing time tonight. He made a great play on punt coverage, as he beat two blockers to the ball and hit the returner, who then got swallowed up by several Dolphin players. Sapp, who started seven games last year in Minnesota, could compete for playing time as a nickel/dime corner, as well as getting significant times as a special teams player.
Nolan Carroll—Carroll showed that he was a rookie, as he couldn't seem to stay with his man in the nickel. Learning how to play cornerback is hard enough, and Carroll is trying to learn to play nickel corner as well. Playing as a nickel corner is sometimes more difficult due to different coverage schemes that would be played differently lined up over a slot receiver. He will eventually be an asset to this team, but it wouldn't be surprising if he struggled at first.
Offensive Line—this group as a whole was not impressive tonight. Atlanta's defensive front seemed dominating, getting a steady push against the Dolphins' offensive unit. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown had very little room to run, and the offense had immense trouble trying to move the ball in the first half. One key matchup was between brothers John Jerry (MIA) and Peria Jerry (ATL). John Jerry has been impressive, but his brother, Peria, seemed to get the best of him on a few plays.
Chad Henne—Henne made some nice throws tonight, but he was also late on several throws. One throw in particular, to Anthony Fasano, would have likely ended up as a touchdown. Fasano ran a post route and broke his route around the five yard line, and was split between two defenders. Henne released the ball late, allowing the defenders to close in on the window, breaking up the pass. Henne also saw an opening to Fasano in the end zone again, but threw it late, and the ball was tipped and intercepted.
While it is still the preseason, Miami should have seen more production from its offensive unit. The offensive line was dominated early on, resulting in great inconsistency.
Henne found Marshall several times, but there were also a few times where their timing was off.
This offense has a lot of work to do as a whole if it wants to be a productive and efficient unit.
There were also some penalties on both sides of the ball, some halting the Dolphins offense, and some giving the Falcons' offense second chances.
Tony Sparano is a coach who loves being precise, and these small details should all be addressed in the few weeks upcoming before the September 12th opener in Buffalo.