A warm night, a willing opponent and referees were integral to the next step in the evaluation process for the 2017 Atlanta Falcons. Any team dressed in another uniform would have served the Falcons purpose, it just so happens the venue was in Miami and the Dolphins were eager to test themselves as well. Miami’s seconds and thirds did enough to come away with the victory. A win would have been nice but win or lose it is part of Falcons third year head coach Dan Quinn’s process.
There plenty of new things to see and test out this year. A few items the Falcons have to get worked out before the season starts are:
New OC Steve Sarkisian
Steve Sarkisian is calling offensive plays this year coming over from Alabama where he was an advisor. This was Quinn’s first opportunity to see his new game strategist in action. “I just wanted to make sure our communication was right, and that’s our first time going through it.,” said Quinn. “It’s important for us to go through the process together as well.” So far so good.
The return game was consistent last year. Consistent in the same vane as having coffee every morning at 8. It was predictably uneventful and has been that way since turf toe sidelined Devin Hester 5 games into the 2015 season. Andre Roberts and Marvin Hall raised a few eyebrows sharing punt and kick return duties. Roberts’ 39-yard punt return setup a short field that led to the Falcons first score. Hall also returned a punt that set up an identical situation and result late in the second quarter. The speedy receiver out of Washington made another standout play downing a Matt Bosher punt at the Dolphins 1. With 18 receivers in camp, special teams could be the key to making the team.
When Atlanta made Devonta Freeman the highest paid running back in the league, the expectations for the rushing attack went up a few flights of stairs. Ben Garland and West Schweitzer have been locked in a battle for the starting right guard position during training camp. Neither is in danger of not making the team, however, Garland has demonstrated versatility as a defensive lineman in situation downs. Neither made the leap to distinguish themselves during the game but it was helpful to see them against a player like Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Quinn indicated he was pleased with their effort. The process continues.