Atlanta will not finish the preseason winless after finally claiming victory over the Dolphins. Thank goodness, I know we were all really worried about losing the past two games. While the Falcons handily vanquished their foes on Friday night, it wasn't as carefree as the final score suggested. There were struggles along the way, but luckily there's still time to correct some of these issues.
Of course we saw plenty of positive notes along the way. Instead of just doing a simple recap, I'd like to countdown the main points of the game that stood out to me when it was all said and done. Let's run down the list after the jump.
10) Lawrence Sidbury made a tackle on special teams, one for a loss on Steve Slaton and a sack that caused a fumble on Matt Moore. He may have jumped the snap once, but that's a solid performance from El Sid.
8) Pass coverage was good, but this wasn't a huge test for the secondary. A rookie quarterback with no one to throw to should be shut down. Anthony Fasano dropped three passes, including one that was a sure touchdown. I'm not harping on the defense, just don't expect things to be this easy every game.
7) Davone Bess got the Besst (get it?) of Dunta Robinson. He only caught four balls on the night, but every time Robinson was right there watching. He'll likely be sticking to the slot, so his coverage needs to improve.
6) Tyson Clabo struggled at times. Cameron Wake is a beast, no denying that, but right tackle is supposed to be one of the only O-line positions they haven't had to worry about. Ryan was sacked twice last night, and we all know this is still a work in progress. Lamar Holmes did play well for the most part. Hopefully he significant time next week.
5) Dominique Davis threw three passes. He finished with a 149.3 passer rating. If he doesn't make this roster, I'm protesting. That ball to Tim Toone could not have been any more perfect. Also, JPW did not play. This should foreshadow things to come.
4) Why run a pitch to Quizz on fourth-and-2? That call just didn't seem to fit. After all the talk of a vertical passing game and more aggressive approach, I don't see why they wouldn't try something to Julio or Roddy, instead of having Roddy alongside HD block to the right. Running it on fourth-down, as we all recall, didn't work too well last season. It would be nice to at least see what Ryan can do in that scenario.
3) The defense is getting a lot more pressure than we're used to seeing. There were two sacks and five tackles for losses against Miami. Guys are getting into the backfield with ease at times, and we can only hope this continues into the regular season. Tannehill was on the run often. Keep it coming.
2) Matt Ryan finished with a 107.9 rating, 220 yards and a touchdown. His QB rating in three games so far is 111.0, and his completion percentage has been phenomenal. Ryan also averaged 8.5 yards per pass last night, over a yard more than his career average (7.04). The Falcons are allowing him to take shots down the field and go for bigger chunks of yardage, and it's paying off.
1) Do you remember seeing many third-down conversions? You don't? That's because there weren't many. The Falcons ended the night 6 of 16 in these situations. That's a 37.5 percentage, which would have ranked them 14th in the league last season. That's not awful, but was frustrating to watch last night. Matt Bryant's middle name is clutch, but I don't want to see him out on the field often, no offense there No. 3. Some have said Koetter is not using everything in his playbook so he doesn't give everything away yet. Take that for what it's worth.
Honorable mention: Did anyone else feel like the announcers were actively rooting for the Dolphins? There were some bad calls that went Atlanta's way, but I got the sense they enjoyed Miami's success far more.
Also, roster cuts are coming. Beware.