Atlanta Falcons: Three Things to Know about the Miami Dolphins


One aspect that often gets overlooked during the miserably boring NFL Preseason is the fact that you get to match-ups that do not happen all that often. Case and point, the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons have only played 12 regular season games against each other in history.

-= Related: Falcons’ O-Line Will Be Tested Vs. Dolphins =-

With limiting travel being a huge decision maker during the preseason, the Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Dolphins often match up during the preseason (five out of the last six years). The two teams have some level of familiarity with each other, but preseason disinterest probably keeps most fans uninformed with rare regular season opponents like the Miami Dolphins. I am here to fix that.

1) Ryan Tannehill‘s Progression

Ryan Tannehill has been a hot-rod of conversation since Miami selected him out of Texas A&M with the 8th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The history is well know; the Dolphins have been floundering as a franchise since Dan Marino retired after a depressing 62-7 playoff beatdown by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1999.

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When he joined the Dolphins, many fans knew that huge expectations were going to inevitably be thrust upon him. Pulling a moribund franchise from the mediocre oblivion that the Dolphins have existed in since Marino retired is what many expect out of Ryan Tannehill. First round picks traditional have a lot of pressure on them, but when you are a franchise’s first quarterback drafted in the first round since 1983, it is a whole different animal.

Tannehill has been a consistent, if slightly  underwhelming performer in his first three seasons. He has increased his QB Rating and Touchdown passes every season as well as having a career low number of interceptions in 2014. The main complaint about Tannehill is regarding his win-loss records.

While he has arguably authored the best three-year run by a Dolphins quarterback since the great Dan Marino, he still can’t seem to pull the Dolphins out of mediocrity. His 23-25 record has put him under a fair amount of pressure but there’s plenty of blame to go around – namely from the group below.

2) Offensive Line

If there is one thing that the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins have in common it is a miserably shallow and under-performing offensive line. The Dolphins have spent a lot of money to improve an offensive line that has disappointed since the days of the Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in the “Wildcat” formation. The Dolphins have a terrific left tackle and center in Branden Albert and  Mike Pouncey but they paid a huge price for the pair.

The Dolphins also used a 2014 First Round pick on Ja’Wuan James to play right tackle. Those three players are actually very good and all have Pro Bowls in their future. The issues for the Dolphins comes at guard and depth where they might have the worst pair of starting guards in the NFL and zero quality depth to replace anyone if they got hurt (like Branden Albert did last year).

Much of the Dolphins chances of success in 2015 hinge on the offensive line staying healthy and keeping Ryan Tannehill on his feet. The line paved the way for a decent running game in 2014 but still allowed 46 sacks. Offensive guards Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas  should start this year and have done very little to inspire confidence during the preseason. The Dolphins were in the Evan Mathis chase this offseason but disappointingly balked at his asking price. When the Dolphins fail to make the playoffs again in 2014, there will be no one else to blame but the offensive line.

3) Brent Grimes

Brent Grimes was probably one of my favorite Atlanta Falcons of all time. His freakish athleticism and height defying coverage skills make him one of the more enjoyable defensive players to watch on Sundays. It was a truly sad day to seem him end his Falcons career with a torn Achilles’ in 2012.

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The Dolphins signed Grimes to a one-year “prove-it” contract before the 2013 season and he showed that he was still an elite NFL player after a career-threatening injury.

Grimes has played all 32 games the last two years and has been a Pro Bowler in 2013 and 2014. His trademark athleticism has led to some jaw-dropping defensive plays during his time as a Dolphin (see his one-handed pick of Matthew Stafford during the 2014 season). He’s been a fan favorite in Miami and he anchors what has been a decent to very good Dolphins defense.

Nov 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes (21) celebrates after intercepting a pass during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations are still very high for the Dolphins defense and Grimes anchors a talented, if unexperienced, defensive secondary. If Grimes can stay healthy again in 2015, there’s no reason to believe that there is not another Pro Bowl in his future.

Next: Atlanta Falcons: 5 Players to Watch vs. Dolphins

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