After falling just short against the Bengals in the second preseason game, the Falcons will leave the confines of the Georgia Dome and take their talents to South Beach to face off against the Miami Dolphins in their penultimate preseason match-up. This will be the homecoming for former Miami Dolphins DC Mike Nolan who now holds the same position within the Falcons organization. There will be several important things to watch as several Falcons who had missed previous games will be suiting up for this one.
What will you be watching during the game?
Looking at the Atlanta offense they shouldn't have to many issues with the Miami defense. The important things to watch will be how Atlanta contains stud pass rusher Cameron Wake, and if they are able to open up sufficient enough running lanes for the running backs. Another important aspect of the game to watch will be how Atlanta's WRs match up against the the Dolphins DBs. We should also keep an eye on the back-up quarterback situation as Dominique Davis has really started to make things interesting, and head coach Mike Smith said that the #2 QB spot is up for grabs. Even though the starters will be playing until halftime it will be adamant that we all keep our eye on this situation. We should all also watch how Harry Douglas fares against Nolan Carroll and Richard Marshall. If Douglas can bring it all together this year than Atlanta could have a very explosive offense for this up coming season.
When looking at QB Dominique Davis you should see if he goes through all of his reads. Generally, Davis has been very good about doing this in the first two games along with keeping his eyes downfield and looking for the receiver instead of scrambling. If Davis continues to be patient and let the plays develop it will speak a lot about his maturity in this offense. The other very important thing to watch is Davis' touch. He's shown great touch at times on deep balls, but his he also has been lacking touch on some down the field throws. As he progresses, his deep ball has the potential to be a huge part of his game due to his cannon arm.
As I said earlier if Harry Douglas can bring it all-together this year it will make the offense so much more difficult to game plan for and defend against. When we're looking at HD we should keep an eye on his route running and how fluid he is in and out of his breaks. If HD is running crisp routes and looking sharp in and out of his breaks he should be able to gain separation against the DBs. The other aspect of Douglas' game to watch is how he does after the catch. We have seen what Douglas has been able to do in the past when the ball is in his hands if you remember his punt return touchdown his rookie year and the long preseason TD last year against Jacksonville where many of the yards came after the catch. If Douglas can consistently produce YAC from the slot position it could turn him into a go to target in certain situations for Matt Ryan and bring another dimension to the Atlanta offense.
Looking at the defense it will be extremely intriguing to see if the Atlanta DL will be able to replicate the success it had against the Bengals OL, going against a Miami OL led by Jake Long and Mike Pouncey. John Abraham has historically gotten the best of Jake Long when they've matched up. Mike Pouncey is a very good interior OL for the Dolphins so Peria Jerry will get his 2nd big match up this season after he had some sucess against Ravens G Marshall Yanda and destroying Kevin Zeiter. We'll also likely see Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury get snaps with the first team defense, and they should be able to produce against the Dolphins rookie RT Johnathan Martin, who struggled in his last pre-season games. Biermann in particular should be paid close attention to as he beat Bengals RT Andre Smith more than once last week. We'll also want to pay close attention to second year man Akeem Dent who is returning to his first game since suffering a concussion against the Ravens while on special teams.
When we are looking at Biermann it will be very important to see how he does from a stand up rush position compared to how he does with his hand in the ground. While rushing from a stand up position Biermann has been much more efficient and has looked more explosive than with his hands in the ground. We should also keep an eye on how Biermann uses his hands in the pass rush. He seemed to be doing a great job of using his hands to slap away the OT's hands and then turning the corner or bullrushing the OT and getting pressure. Biermann will be going primarily against Martin, and Biermann should be able to get pressure against the first year man from Stanford.
Akeem Dent had an impressive preseason debut in the pass rushing and run stuffing departments in the limited time he did play as he got a TFL and a sack. Unfortunately, Dent was sidelined with a concussion and missed the game against the Bengals. When we start looking at Dent we'll want to pay close attention to him in the passing game. He made some mental mistakes against the Ravens that resulted in a big gain and a touchdown against him. It isn't anything wrong with the physical part of his game, but he seemed to drop to deep in his zone which resulted in Ed Dickson catching a touchdown and it looked like he mis-read the quarterback and went the wrong direction which allowed Torrey Smith to blaze past him on a drag route that resulted in a big gain for the Ravens. If Dent can get a better grip on the mental part of the game when he's in coverage he could show flashes of a complete package player. The other thing I would like to see out of Dent is how he does with more blitzes. He got a wide open lane to the Joe Flacco against the Ravens and brought him down for a big sack. I would like to see if Dent can use his quickness and hands to beat a FB or C while rushing the up through the interior of the line. If he can it will give Mike Nolan another weapon in the pass rush.