NFL News & Analysis

NFL Preseason Week 2 Game Recap: Miami Dolphins 37, Atlanta Falcons 17

Aug 21, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin (37) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins’ starters took care of the Atlanta Falcons’ backups in a decisive 37-17 victory Saturday during Week 2 of the 2021 NFL preseason.

Tua Tagovailoa led an offense that averaged seven yards per play in the first half, and Miami’s pass rush feasted on an Atlanta offensive line that struggled mightily for the second straight week.


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Atlanta Falcons

Quarterbacks

A.J. McCarron once again failed to inspire much confidence that he could capably fill in for Matt Ryan during the regular season. The eight-year veteran took a big hit on a scramble in the second quarter that knocked him out of the game after he completed half of his first six pass attempts.

That hit could end up costing McCarron more than just this game.

Feleipe Franks’ mobility is his biggest edge over McCarron. He converted a fourth down with his legs shortly after entering the game, but he also took four sacks in just 16 dropbacks. An average time to throw of 3.5 seconds didn’t help matters.

Running Backs
Player Snaps Targets Carries Total yards
Qadree Ollison 18 0 7 21
D’Onta Foreman 13 0 9 24
Caleb Huntley 12 0 6 57
Javian Hawkins 7 0 5 46

Qadree Ollison saw almost all of the early work, and he picked up 21 hard-fought rushing yards on seven carries. Seventeen of those yards came after contact.

Javian Hawkins and Caleb Huntley strung together several big runs late in the game, capped by a 30-yard touchdown from Huntley.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Player Routes Run Targets Receptions Rec. Yards
John Raine 14 1 0 0
Tajae Sharpe 14 5 2 27
Chris Rowland 13 0 0 0
Christian Blake 12 3 1 16
Parker Hesse 10 1 1 4
Juwan Green 10 1 1 15
Frank Darby 8 2 2 27

It was another preseason performance without much success in the passing game. Tajae Sharpe and Frank Darby were the only wide receivers or tight ends to catch multiple passes. Sharpe brought in two of five targets, but he dropped a potential touchdown pass from Franks.

Offensive Line

Thirty-nine of Jalen Mayfield’s 45 snaps in this game came at left guard after he played exclusively right tackle in the preseason opener against Tennessee.

Mayfield replaced Josh Andrews at left guard after the first drive. Willie Beavers (LT), Drew Dalman (C), Sam Jones (RG) and Kaleb McGary (RT) started the game alongside Andrews.

Pending review, the group allowed pressure on nearly 50% of Atlanta’s dropbacks against Brian Flores’ defense.

Defensive Line

An already thin defensive line was even thinner without Grady Jarrett, Dante Fowler Jr. and Marlon Davidson. Jonathan Bullard and Adetokunbo Ogundeji were the only Atlanta defensive linemen with multiple pressures, per PFF’s first-run analysis.

Linebackers

Second-year linebacker Mykal Walker made his presence felt on several blitzes late in the first half. He also split out wide on Salvon Ahmed out of the backfield and contributed to an incomplete downfield pass with tight coverage.

Secondary
Player Wide CB Slot CB Box Deep/FS
T.J. Green 41 3 1 0
JR Pace 0 3 15 22
Jaylinn Hawkins 0 3 7 26
Chris Williamson 32 1 2 0
Richie Grant 2 17 7 9
Dwayne Johnson Jr. 0 5 14 16
Delrick Abrams Jr. 20 1 4 0
Darren Hall 7 11 0 0
Avery Williams 11 1 0 0
Fabian Moreau 9 0 1 0
Isaiah Oliver 0 6 0 0

Isaiah Oliver started the game for Atlanta in the slot, with Fabian Moreau and Chris Williamson at outside cornerback. All six of Oliver’s defensive snaps came in the slot.

The Dolphins’ hopes of securing a third touchdown before halftime were thwarted by an impressive fourth-down pass breakup from rookie safety Richie Grant, a product of UCF. Grant started the game at safety and moved around the defensive formation.

Miami Dolphins

Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailoa looked comfortable maneuvering the pocket, and he put the ball accurately on his receivers, allowing them to tack on additional yardage after the catch. Tagovailoa’s first incompletion didn’t come until the second quarter, and he finished the game 16-for-23 for 183 yards and a touchdown.

Jacoby Brissett was sharp in relief of Tagovailoa, as well. He went a perfect 8-for-8 as a passer in an effort that included a well-placed touchdown throw to Robert Foster toward the end of the third quarter.

Reid Sinnett even got into the action with a late touchdown pass. 

Running Back
Player Snaps Targets Carries Total yards
Myles Gaskin 19 4 6 71
Salvon Ahmed 15 3 2 25
Malcolm Brown 13 0 10 43
Gerrid Doaks 13 1 7 38

Unlike in the preseason opener, Myles Gaskin was the clear lead back ahead of Malcolm Brown. Gaskin recorded 57 combined rushing and receiving yards on the game’s first drive, plunging across the goal line to cap it off. He finished the game with 44 receiving yards on 11 routes and six carries for 27 yards.

Brown had a much more efficient night as a runner than last week, bumping up his yards per carry from 0.9 to 4.3 (43 rushing yards on 10 attempts).

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Player Routes Run Targets Receptions Rec. Yards
Malcolm Perry 23 2 1 29
Mack Hollins 22 5 4 49
Robert Foster 19 2 2 16
Mike Gesicki 17 2 2 43
Kirk Merritt 12 3 3 34
Jaylen Waddle 11 4 3 21
Chris Myarick 8 1 1 6
Jakeem Grant 8 2 2 16
Durham Smythe 7 0 0 0
Adam Shaheen 6 1 0 0
Hunter Long 4 1 1 4

With six wide receivers sitting out of this game, Miami fed Jaylen Waddle early with three targets and a jet sweep on the first drive of the game. Waddle finished his night with three receptions on four targets for 21 yards, briefly leaving the game after getting his leg taken out on a run play.

Mack Hollins also continued to make the most of Miami’s absences at wide receiver. He brought in four of his five targets, several of which were contested.

Only four of Mike Gesicki’s 20 offensive snaps came inline. Both of his receptions (43 yards) came in the slot.

Offensive Line

Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, Michael Deiter, Robert Hunt and Jesse Davis started the game for Miami from left to right. Liam Eichenberg came into the game to replace Davis at right tackle in the second quarter with the other four starters still in place.

That starting group was impressive. Hunt wasn’t charged with a pressure allowed on 28 pass-blocking snaps at right guard, pending review.

Defensive Line

Zach Sieler recorded a pair of run stops on his 16 defensive snaps. Raekwon Davis also flashed both in the run game and as a pass rusher.

Linebackers

Sam Eguavoen finished the night with four sacks and a safety, regularly getting home as a pass rusher on stunts. Those four sacks came despite Eguavoen lining up as an edge defender on only 10 of his 37 defensive snaps.

Calvin Munson intercepted Franks on a leaping grab in the fourth quarter, returning it inside the 10-yard line to set up a touchdown.

Secondary
Player Wide CB Slot CB Box Deep/FS
Cre’Von Leblanc 25 7 1 0
Eric Rowe 0 12 14 2
Jason McCourty 0 0 4 24
Nik Needham 21 5 1 0
Jamal Perry 0 0 0 22
Justin Coleman 6 16 0 0
Clayton Fejedelem 0 3 13 0
Noah Igbinoghene 15 2 1 0
Xavien Howard 7 1 1 0
Byron Jones 9 0 0 0

Nik Needham began the game in the slot (five snaps) with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard before moving outside himself (21 snaps). Needham broke up a second-quarter goal-line fade while lined up on the outside.

Eric Rowe and Jason McCourty played 100% of the first-half snaps at safety due to neither Jevon Holland nor Brandon Jones playing in the game. Rowe broke up a pass in that time on the field.

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