Miami Gardens, FL – On a night full of optimism for the upcoming season, the Miami Dolphins didn’t put up much of a show.
Mainly made up of their second-string roster, Miami could not get the ball rolling on offense, and couldn’t best the Atlanta Falcons in a defense-oriented battle, falling by a score of 19-3.
We’re Talking About Practice
Dolphins nation turned out in full force, despite multiple events going on in the 305 at the same time, including Inter-Miami hosting Charlotte FC in Fort Lauderdale and the Miami Marlins hosting the New York Yankees in Little Havana.
After months of free agency trades and rumors, fans were happy to see players in jerseys once more at Hard Rock Stadium.
With this preseason being the first of three, most of the expected starting lineup come Week 1 of the regular season sat out, including QB Tua Tagovailoa, WR Tyreek Hill, and DT Christian Wilkins.
Instead, fans were greeted to the second-strings, reserves. and players looking to make the final roster by performing their best under the lights.
The following players are not expected to play in tonight's preseason game against the Falcons. pic.twitter.com/lu1wLA5OfN
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 11, 2023
One of the biggest storylines as a result was the battle for second-string in the quarterback position, primarily between second-year Dolphin Skylar Thompson and offseason signing Mike White from the New York Jets.
“I think it’s about how people learn, react, and especially with quarterbacks, you have to be very coachable,” said head coach Mike McDaniel. “There’s going to be a point where Tua is going to be taking all the reps and you’d better be learning from the things that you did in the preseason and the things that Tua is learning from.”
Aside from that, the storylines were few and far between. Unlike previous seasons, most of the big positions for Miami are almost guaranteed to brew talent. Even with unfortunate injuries to WR Jaylen Waddle and CB Jalen Ramsey that could set them back for a while, this team has talent all over.
The Hometown Kid Starts Off
Born and raised in Miami, Mike White made his Dolphins debut in the first half. He began his first drive hot, with a pair of mid-range passes to get the chains moving. The Fins running game was slow to boot, but eventually Myles Gaskin cashed in on some solid blocking by the offensive line. Inside the red zone however, White made a critical error throwing a risky ball into triple coverage, forcing an interception early.
The defensive battle pursued, with shared punts between both teams. In the middle of that, Miami, unveiled the Hall of Fame plaque next to Zach Thomas’ name in the Ring of Honor, and that got the most cheers of the night. Through it all, the first quarter ended with no points on the board.
Atlanta came out of the first quarter with an eight play, 68-yard drive that was wrapped up with a touchdown pass by Logan Woodside, who played the whole game for Atlanta. Despite a missed extra point, the Falcons held a 6-0 lead and didn’t look back.
📺: FOX | NFL+ pic.twitter.com/0V49gYMylj
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 11, 2023
The second red zone opportunity or Miami, thanks in part to a heavy workload by Gaskin, was also squandered. On fourth down a broken up pass by White fell incomplete, and a turnover on downs ensued, though this wouldn’t be the last time this happens.
“It’s just one of those preseason games where we executed some plays, maybe not so much on the other, and as much as you don’t want it to happen, it’s going to happen,” said White. “At this point, it’s about how we learn from it, how we handle it, and making sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Thankfully for Miami’s struggling offense, the defense had bailed them out thus far, thanks in part to a solid game by LB Channing Tindall. On Miami’s third try in the end zone, another turnover on downs kept the Fins off the scoreboard for the rest of the half.
A Playoff Caliber QB Steps In
Skylar Thompson stepped in for the second half and beyond. After an incredible preseason performance last year, expectations were high for him, however he began ice cold with a three and out.
On top of that, two more three and outs on offense for the Dolphins and Falcons drained the clock and kept the game close. Even after an interception by Thompson, the Miami defense forced another fourth down punt.
At the very least, the Dolphins finally found some rhythm late in the third to set up a successful 49-yard field goal by Jason Sanders to cut the lead to 6-3.
The last attempt for the Fins to get back in this game on the offense was thwarted by both penalties and a sack on Thompson. On the following punt, the Falcons took it to the house for a 79-yard touchdown to seal the game with minutes to go. But just for good measure, a strip sack on Thompson ran the clock out.
“It’s not always going to be perfect,” said Thompson. “I just need to go back and watch the tape and just learn and do what I can to get better from every single experience that I got tonight.”
A Dirty Look at the Statistics
Despite the score, Miami’s offense was more efficient for most of the game. They earned more first downs, (20 to 13) total yards, (357 to 248) and time of possession. However, four turnovers and eight penalties hurt their chances.
Thompson was Miami’s leading passer with 104 yards, 10 completions, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Meanwhile, Gaskin rushed for 57 yards off of seven carries. He might be a running back, but draft pick De’von Achane caught four passes for 41 yards.
Time to move on for the Dolphins. They’ll travel to Texas for a matchup against the Houston Texans on Saturday, August 19th at 4pm.