PFF's ReFocused series features immediate takeaways from the two analysts who graded the game live. The two offer a detailed breakdown of the game's most notable performances before the grades and advanced stats are reviewed and finalized by Senior Analysts.
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The two most impressive players on the field for the Dolphins in this one were a pair of undrafted edge defenders on the fringe of the roster in Dewayne Hendrix and Jonathan Ledbetter. Hendrix nabbed himself a couple of sacks, as well as a handful of more pressures on limited pass-rushing snaps. Ledbetter had a sack and a few hurries, and he was also a force in the run game. He not only made multiple solo stops himself but disrupted plays and allowed his teammates to finish the job. Those performances should help boost their roster chances as they go forward.
An undrafted free agent fighting to make the roster, Preston Williams made some incredible catches when he was targeted. His hands and body control took center stage, as he made highlight-reel catches all throughout the contest. He also forced a pass interference penalty by the defense.
Based on how late he stayed into this game, it doesn't appear as though QB Matt Schaub‘s backup position is being seriously challenged by Matt Simms. Schaub had a solid, if not unspectacular, night as he made some good throws mixed in with some misses. He seemed to be playing it pretty safe as he didn't look to throw down the field that often and stuck to completing easy passes in front of the sticks. Still, he looked a lot better than Simms, who struggled to hit passes that NFL QBs are expected to hit.
Falcons linebacker Jermaine Grace was extremely impressive in this game, specifically in his coverage. He was on the field for a ton of passing plays, almost always dropping into coverage. But despite the large number of snaps he spent in coverage, he was rarely targeted and did not allow a single reception. He also made a fantastic play in baiting Josh Rosen into a throw that he managed to jump and intercept. Grace isn't talked about by many in terms of making the Falcons roster, but a few more performances like this, and he could sneak in.
This was not a good night for cornerback Nik Needham. No other player was targeted even close to as often as he was, and he gave up multiple completions for first downs. Not only that, but his numbers would have been even worse if not for a couple of dropped passes by open receivers that he was covering. He did make one nice pass defense midway through the second quarter on a slant, but overall this was a game for Needham to forget.
As was the case throughout last season, the Dolphins' offensive line had issues. Whether it was presumed starters like Michael Deiter or Jordan Mills or their backups, it didn't seem to matter. This line was a big reason that the Dolphins running backs gained just 84 yards on 28 carries. Miami will continue to struggle unless they can find some answers upfront.
Atlanta's entire offensive line struggled in this one from start to finish. They gave up four sacks as a unit and countless other pressures. This was mostly all backups, but it does not bode well for the Falcons' depth if they can't improve. Starting guard Chris Lindstrom only played a few snaps, but he too struggled to pass protect and was beaten multiple times before going to the sideline.
There was a lot of good talk surrounding fifth-round cornerback Jordan Miller going into this game, but unfortunately, he did not deliver as many had hoped. Miller gave up a completion every time he was targeted, most of which went for first downs. While it could have been worse, you'd still like to have seen him make some kind of a play on the ball at some point. He also missed a tackle in coverage, which hopefully will not become a trend for him.
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