Last night, the Dolphins lost their first preseason game 19-3 against the Atlanta Falcons. It was a less-than-impressive performance by both teams, but what do you expect when 90 percent of the potential starters were not active? Let’s break down the game a bit and dive into the positives and negatives. 

What I Liked 

I first noticed that both Austin Jackson and Liam Eichenberg started the game. I think this is paramount, considering both of them are battling for a chance to be starters come Week 1 of the regular season. They have been on the cusp for a while now, and they need to maximize their reps and put on some good tape in live action. The game’s first drive was an impressive showing by Mike White, ultimately ending with a red zone interception. This would come to be the narrative as the Dolphins found success in reaching the red zone but failed to score a touchdown on any of their three trips. The run game was another positive of the night, as Myles Gaskin and Devon Achane looked especially impressive. Gaskin showed off the moves with a 35-yard gain to the right side, and Achane displayed his speed with a nice gain on a punt return. Erik Ezukanma also flashed some ability with an end-around rush for 39 yards. The offense still needs some work, and as of right now, there is no clear second option between Mike White and Skylar Thompson, so let’s hope Tua plays the full season.

The defense did a relatively good job, as the Atlanta offense only scored once, with the other 13 points coming from a punt return and a pick 6. Noah Igbinoghene and Eli Apple started at corner for the Dolphins, Noah is showing improvement, and Apple was likely just getting reps due to him being a new addition to the team. Cam Smith is another rookie that showed out, playing 100% at all times. His biggest play was a break on an inside route where he came from depth to break up the pass, a true thing of beauty. However, that was short-lived, as Smith was seen heading to the locker room with what is now being ruled as a shoulder injury. 

What I Didn’t Like 

Both the offense and defense looked lost at times, granted I fully understand that these are backups that need reps, but they are operating in the same scheme as the starters. Drives stalling out in the red zone, plays being stopped before they have a chance to start, and just an overall lack of effort toward the end of the game. This is not a recipe for success, and even Mike McDaniel acknowledged it; “Did you enjoy that clinic?” as he led off his post-game presser. There will always be rough patches in the preseason, but some things, such as unnecessary penalties and costly turnovers, should always be a point of emphasis. Look for the details to be ironed out in the next game. 

In conclusion, I’m sure the week 1 version of the Miami Dolphins will look very different from the team we saw on the field last night. Don’t overreact; applaud individual performances and continue to watch possible depth players develop into better players. It’s only preseason; there’s much more football to be played.