Eric Rowe said it best with a tweet Saturday night that read simply, "crowd energy >>>>>>>>." Truly, nothing is greater than the roar of raucous Dolphins fans at Hard Rock Stadium, and even though there were a few empty seats for the exhibition, the noise could've tricked the ears into thinking otherwise.
The performance on the field made it easy for fans to stay loud as Miami controlled the game from the jump with two touchdowns on the first two possessions and just three points allowed in the first half. We'll get to the three takeaways from the victory, but first a reminder.
If you haven't do so already, download the latest edition of the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield as we cover the takeaways, position-by-position standouts, and much more from the 37-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
1. Eguavoen's Big Night Emblematic of Team Approach
Sam Eguavoen's four-sack night was the most by any individual in preseason football since at least 2017. Part of an 11-tackle performance, which was capped off by a safety on the fourth sack, Eguavoen made the most of his opportunities – opportunities that were set up in part by his teammates.
"Just being out there with your team, man, it's just crazy knowing you made a play and everybody – all 11 on the field, even the sideline, everybody is excited for you, "Eguavoen said. "Even when Munson caught his pick, the whole sideline erupted. Heck, I forget that I made the play because people are punching me and things like that. I'm like, 'Dang, I don't want to make no more plays because this kind of hurts. (laughter).' But it's a team game, man. It's 11; it's a tough sport. Anytime you can make a play, man, just celebrate, rejoice, but then get right back to the next play."
Adam Butler created space on a pair of sacks by picking a blocker and opening a lane for Eguavoen to rush through. On another instance, Duke Riley took on the running back in pass protection to give Eguavoen a free run on Feleipe Franks for the two-point sack in the end zone.
"We talk on the sideline," Eguavoen said. "Adam Butler, he's a veteran defensive lineman. He's really smart when it comes to pass rush and things like that, and he's taught me a lot this summer, training camp."
Eguavoen did the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield last December to talk about his "why" – the reason he plays, for his brother Owen who suffers from epilepsy.
Check out the top photos from Preseason Week 2 - Falcons vs. Dolphins on August 21, 2021, presented by Verizon.
2. Quarterbacks Stay Sharp
After completing eight consecutive passes in the preseason opener in Chicago, Tua Tagovailoa hit his first eight passes in the first Dolphins game at Hard Rock Stadium in 2021. In doing so, the second-year south paw became the only player in the league this preseason to complete 100 percent of his passes in a first quarter (min. five attempts). Tagovailoa dazzled in a few areas: footwork, ball placement, mitigating pressure and a quick release. Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network broke it down on his Twitter timeline.
The aerial assault didn't conclude when No. 1 exited the game. The Dolphins signed a top-shelf backup this offseason in Jacoby Brissett, who hit all eight of his passes on Saturday for 99 yards and a touchdown. Reid Sinnett only threw two passes, but he completed both including one for a touchdown.
3. Next Man Up
Six wide receivers were unavailable for the Dolphins Saturday (Albert Wilson, Will Fuller, Lynn Bowden Jr., DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Isaiah Ford), but that didn't ground the air show at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins passed for 286 yards on just 33 attempts (8.67 yards per pass).
Wide receivers, tight ends, running backs – a complement of the entire offensive arsenal stepped up to keep the chains moving and the scoreboard operator busy. Mack Hollins is making the most of the opportunity in the absence of so many of his contemporaries – he caught four passes for a team-high 49 yards including two for first downs on third down. Kirk Merritt found the end zone for the first time in his career, Malcolm Perry scampered for 29 yards on his lone reception and rookie Jaylen Waddle produced 22 of his 21 receiving yards after the catch (his second reception was caught four yards behind the line of scrimmage).
It wasn't just the wide outs – tight end Mike Gesicki now has catches of 50 yards and 30 yards in the preaseason after getting vertical down the middle against Atlanta for another big gain. He's caught all four of his targets this preseason for 79 yards.
Myles Gaskin led Miami with 71 yards from scrimmage including a pair of touchdowns. The third-year back was a factor in the air game as 44 of those 71 yards and one of the touchdowns came via the pass.