Sunday, September 22, 2013

Four Point Stance: Falcons at Dolphins


After kicking off the season with two road victories, the Miami Dolphins open their home slate against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon, looking to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. To do so, they'll need to outscore one of the league's most talented offenses, albeit one missing its starting tailback in Stephen Jackson (hamstring) and left tackle Sam Baker (knee/foot).

A win will give a measure of early-season validation for the Dolphins, who will be in a favorable position to make a run at a postseason berth after reshaping the roster in the offseason with that goal in mind. (Photo: Mark Runyon | Pro Football Schedules)


Neutralize the receivers. To win, the Dolphins need to find a way to slow down the Falcons' lethal passing attack, conducted by quarterback Matt Ryan. Receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez are among the league's elites in their respective positions and will put tremendous pressure on a shaky Dolphins coverage unit. How well that unit holds up will likely indicate the winner of this contest.

Pressure Ryan. In addition to competing in coverage, Miami will need to get pressure on the quarterback, and quick. The Dolphins' pass rush has been formidable so far in two games, and will have an opportunity to generate pressure against an Atlanta offensive line battered by injury. But with a talented quarterback and a stable of receivers that can beat man coverage, the Falcons offense is much more equipped to beat that rush, unless Miami gets to Ryan quickly.

Keep pace on offense. The Dolphins' defense will be hard-pressed to prevent the Falcons from putting up points, so some responsibility falls on the offense to outpace Atlanta on the scoreboard. The Falcons defense is missing some key contributors so the opportunities should be there for Ryan Tannehill and the Miami offense, but they'll need to put together the complete game that's eluded them in the first two contests to make it happen.

Turnovers. In what is expected to be a relatively close game, ball security may be the difference. The turnover margin has the potential to swing the outcome in either direction, so Miami will need to build on its plus-2 early-season turnover differential to stay in position to win.
A week in Dolphins posts at

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