On a night where many teams opt to not even send out their starters, the Falcons marched out most of their record breaking starting offense for the first series, and boy did it send some chills up the arms of the Atlanta fans.
They picked up right were they left off, marching down the field on the Dolphins defense. And when Miami was finally able to get Atlanta on fourth and one, Quinn reminded all of the NFL of his aggressive nature, by going for it on the very first preseason drive. It paid off too, as the new offensive coordinator Steven Sarkisian, came up with a beautifully designed play-action pass that left Devonta Freeman wide open in the flat, who ran it in for the fifteen yard score. That would be all we would see from Matt Ryan and the starting offense.
The rest of the first quarter was quiet as it concluded 7-3, Atlanta. The Dolphins began with the ball in the second quarter, and this time it was the Falcons defense coming through with a big play. Dolphins quarterback, Brandon Doughty was under pressure, lofted one to the left sideline, and De’Vondre Campbell was right there waiting for the interception. Both teams traded scores to end the half, as the Falcons headed into the locker room with a 14-10 lead.
Now usually the second half of preseasons games are filled with no names and inevitable cuts, but this opener did feature one name Falcons fans kept their eye on. Recently suspended Jalen Collins has fans calling for his throat after this one. With a four point lead in the fourth quarter, Miami completed a 99-yard+ TD pass down the sideline on who else, Jalen Collins. Collins dived in an attempt to block the ball, but missed allowing the receiver to go the full length of the field.
Collins’s situation is one of the most interesting to watch as the season approaches. Despite his suspension, he will not count against the 53-man roster, and was one of the most pleasant surprises of last season. Without him, there is a great chance the Falcons never even get to the Super Bowl. However, his discipline history that goes all the way back to his college days is troublesome, and there is no denying Collins still shows a tendency to get burned. With a loaded secondary, Collins’ days could be numbered as a part of the brotherhood.
That final touchdown allowed by Collins was the final score of the ball game, as the Dolphins won the preseason opener 23-20. On a more positive note, rookie linebacker Duke Riley led the team in tackles with five. The Falcons are especially thin at linebacker and need the third-round pick to grow up fast and be a contributor right out of the gate.
The Falcons next preseason game will be on August 20th away from home in Pittsburgh. Do not expect too much work from the starters, but they will get a little bump in playing time in these two middle preseason games.