Five Keys To The Falcons Game

Posted Sep 21, 2013

Here's what needs to happen for the Dolphins to get to 3-0 on Sunday.

Sitting at 2-0 after two tough road wins feels pretty good, but now is not the time to start thinking ahead with the talented Atlanta Falcons coming to town tomorrow. It will be the first regular season home game since last December when the Miami Dolphins defeated the Buffalo Bills, 24-10, and the buzz inside of Sun Life Stadium should be electric! Here's what needs to happen for the Dolphins to get to 3-0 on Sunday.

1) Slow Down Matt Ryan - It's easy to say, but much harder to do! Limiting the effectiveness of quarterback Matt Ryan has been difficult for teams to accomplish over the last five seasons, and this year is no exception. Ryan has completed 71.6 percent of his passes through two games and his quarterback rating of 107.9 ranks fifth across the NFL. He has thrown two or more touchdown passes 40 times in his short career and has enough mobility to extend plays, buying time for the playmakers around him. The Dolphins have the talent up front to disrupt the timing of Atlanta's passing game and the key will be to mix up pressure packages that confuse the Falcons' blitz pick-up. The big question, is can the Dolphins pressure make Ryan throw the football into coverage, or move him from his spot inside the pocket?

2) Cover The Middle Of The Field - Covering the tight end has been a concern for the Dolphins over the past couple of seasons, and through two games it's still something that needs to improve. Cleveland's Jordan Cameron and Indy's Coby Fleener are good players, but if they were able to run freely between the numbers against Miami, future Hall Of Famer Tony Gonzalez shouldn't expect too much resistance on Sunday. The 16-year veteran's number hasn't been called often through the first two games (seven receptions for 69 yards and one touchdown), but his ability to get open, especially in the red zone, should get Miami's attention. Also, the Dolphins should respect and pay close attention to slot receiver Harry Douglas, who works well in tandem with Gonzalez over the middle.

3) Continue the Twenties Trend - It's been a comfort to look at the scoreboard at the end of both Dolphins victories and see that this team has the ability to score over twenty points. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and company have been able to create more explosive plays on offense, and this 2013 defense takes the football away to create more scoring chances. This week's game against Atlanta has the potential to be a high scoring game for both teams because of the playmakers in the passing game, but I still believe if the Dolphins can get to 27, 3-0 is a strong possibility.

4) Protect The Pocket - Sometimes, when we look at the number of sacks through two games (there have been nine of them), we tend to put all of the blame on the offensive line. Well, some of that blame is correct, but it's a shared responsibility between the lineman, running backs, tight ends and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. This group collectively needs to keep Tannehill's jersey clean on Sunday to make his job as stress-free as possible. Ryan also can help out his teammates by doing a better job of either finding the open receiver or tucking the football down and using his legs to extend the play. If the Dolphins can control the line of scrimmage and execute in pass protection, it will allow Tannehill to have greater success throwing the football.

5) Make It A True Home Field Advantage - The 2013 season couldn't have been scripted any better for the fans of the Miami Dolphins. Your team just went out and delivered two victories on the road and finally comes home to play at Sun Life Stadium this Sunday. If there was ever a chance to create mayhem for the Atlanta offense to communicate, it's this week at 4:05pm! Come loud, come strong and help your team to victory by doing your part and that's showing the support that this team has earned through two week and hopefully building a home field advantage in the process.

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