It’s preseason, so let’s go with some random, weird as hell score to start things. As for the game, I doubt we’ll see the starters for more than one or two series, though we probably will get to see tv analyst starting QB for the Dolphins Jay Cutler! The player I’m hoping will stand out is Eric Saubert. From the sounds of it, he’s started to come on during camp and since we’ll likely see a good bit of him during the preseason, I believe he’ll get plenty of targets. Either way, football is back (sort of) and I couldn’t be more excited (for the first couple of series).
Falcons 23 - Dolphins 16
It's the first preseason game, so things are going to be a bit sloppy. The starters aren't likely to play much, save the offensive line as they try to give both Garland and Schweitzer some valuable reps. The Falcons depth is a big strength, so I expect the second and third units to look fairly impressive. The RG battle is going to be very interesting, but also keep an eye on RB Brian Hill. He's likely to get the bulk of the carries, and it'll be interesting to see how he fares in his first NFL action.
Falcons 20 - Dolphins 14
The Falcons win, but it’ll be as ugly as the first preseason game always is. I’m expecting to see the position battles play out in real time with the starters off the field, with Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer splitting halves, the backup swing tackles all getting a bite at the apple, and the young cornerbacks like Deji Olatoye and C.J. Goodwin getting a huge amount of run. It should be fun, even if it’s not pretty.
Halftime score: Falcons 13 - Dolphins 10
Wow. I get back to the USA to find that Devin Fuller is hurt again, training camp is already closed to the public, and Jalen Collins has stepped in a big steaming pile of Petrino. Nothing is ever easy when you follow this team. (Side note: the judge will FINALLY hear Hageman’s motion for dismissal this week. It’s about bloody time. Hang in there, ‘Shede.)
You know what to expect in this first exhibition: Ryan, Freeman etc will put in a token appearance and the second units will get their reps, but most of the second half will be our practice squad hopefuls against their practice squad hopefuls in schemes so vanilla that you’d think they’re using Div II playbooks and making it up as they go along. If you care about the score at all, look at the halftime score. After that, it doesn’t matter.
What to watch: who plays where and when, such as who forms the wedge, who plays gunner and jammer, and who’s on the field in the second unit nickel package. We see training camp highlights from the out-of-nowhere prospects every year, but those special teams and key backup roles are often what tips us off whether the coaches are serious about some of these guys. The players I’ll be watching most closely: Jermaine Grace, Kevin Graf and Jack Lynn.
Falcons Winners - Dolphins Losers
Football is back, and I’ve heard enough of those !@#%!@ Twentyeighttothree jokes to last a lifetime. The end result of this game isn’t important, but I’m excited to see some of our backup players play. Heck, I’m just excited to see my team back on the field again (Don’t go searching my old tweets, anyone)
I’m particularly excited to see Brian Hill play and the bevy of fellows trying to get our 6th WR spot. Jermaine Grace will be an interesting player to watch as well, with indications that he was getting some snaps with the starters. He’s a classic Seahawks type player - got kicked off his college team (for some IMO forgivable shenanigans), was a virtual unknown, but get this - he lead Miami in tackles by a pretty hefty margin his sophomore year (2015) and he was a pretty highly recruited player out of high school. The talent is there. Could there be more to this guy than we first thought? Can’t wait to find out. Here’s to a good 2017 season, everyone!