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Saturday Pre-Game Notes: Tackling The Miami Dolphins

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It's football season!

It's a testament to how much I love the NFL that I eagerly tracked almost every minute of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans game on Thursday night, and I had absolutely zero stake in that game or any interest in either of the teams. There's something about seeing any kind of NFL game that warms me to my very soul.

Of course, nothing's better than watching the Falcons, and they'll take the field Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. As two of the most surprising teams in the league last season, we'll be facing off against one another and an enormous pile of hype. Fans of almost every other team have begun to pile on against us, especially in the NFC South, to which I say enjoy it. If they're wrong, I think our record will do all the talking we need it to.

But that's the general. If you'll follow me, we'll take a look at a few links which break down some of the more specific dramas we should be seeing come gametime. You've waited this long for the Falcons to play. Hopefully you can wait one more day.

  • Flashy, speedy back Jerious Norwood is set to go for Sunday. The Dolphins are going to gameplan extensively for Michael Turner, so having Norwood's vastly different style on hand is going to be a huge boost. With a talented young defense going against us, different looks will be critical, as will the potential Norwood offers for breaking a huge run and changing the tide of a drive. Glad to see him healthy.
  • Luckily, John Abraham is also healthy. I'll be interested to see what Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury can do, but until they prove themselves Abraham is still essentially a one man pass rushing machine, and he'll be critical to our success throughout the season. One of the most effective ways to stop any quality offense is to hurry and hit the quarterback, so here's hoping Abraham goes Biblical on Chad Pennington.
  • Speaking of tests, the Dolphins are likely to give the defense more than a few fits. It's a young unit, and while I've liked everything I've seen from the front seven thus far, but even Mike Smith is admitting that he's a little bit worried about how the youth movement is going to go. That concern is still sharpest in the secondary, where nobody looked particularly great during pre-season action. This won't be last last year when we had the honor of drawing the hapless Detroit Lions first, because there's no way Miami doesn't give us a few fits throughout the game.
  • Those of you who have been here for a little while will remember how badly I wanted the Falcons to draft tackle Jake Long last year. Instead, the Dolphins beat us to it, and we ended up with some guy named Matt Ryan. The lesson, of course, is that I have no more idea of what I'm talking about than Mel Kiper does. Interesting article about that here.
  • The idea of a specialized weapon out of the backfield has been growing in recent years, with teams using hybrid QBs/RBs/WRs to try to throw off opposing defenses and open up the field. The Dolphins likely drafted Pat White for just such a purpose, but they'd sooner kill you than tell you that. How the team will use the much-heralded Wildcat and White in particular is still an open-ended question, but I'd be amazed if we don't see him on the field.
  • It's clear that Miami's gameplan is going to have to revolve around defense. They're not going to worry about what our D can do to them until we give them a compelling reason to worry, but Tony Sparano is a smart coach and he's going to want to lock down Michael Turner early and force Matt Ryan to throw, preferably without a lot of time to do so well. The offensive line must do its job and do it well to give plays time to develop, and I have an enormous amount of confidence that they can. Let's hope I'm right.