The Atlanta Falcons are the best 1-1 team in the NFL. They are better than 90 percent of the league even when they are not at full strength. This week, they head down to Miami filled with injuries, questions and a lot of problems to answer.
The Miami Dolphins are one of those teams you are not sure what to think of. They beat the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 by a score of 23-10 in Cleveland, which equates to little as the Browns are in the bottom five of everyone’s power rankings. In Week 2, the Dolphins beat Andrew Luck’s Colts in Indianapolis 24-20. That is a solid win against a playoff contender.
The Dolphins have holes that the Falcons must exploit, and there are holes the Falcons need to cover in order to win this tough road game. Here are five keys to victory for the Falcons in order to beat the Dolphins on Sunday.
#1- Protect Matt Ryan- This is going to be quite a hefty task for a beat up offensive line that wasn’t good in the first place. The Falcon’s veteran left tackle Sam Baker is going to sit out of this competition. This spells trouble for the Falcons.
Lamar Holmes will be moved over to the left tackle position to better protect Matt Ryan’s blind side, and Jeremy Trueblood will play at the right tackle position. Ryan has been hit very hard in both games this year, and if Matt Ryan wasn’t so good at getting the ball out of his hands, he would have been sacked at least seven times in only two games.
If they can keep Matt Ryan upright for most of the game, the Falcons should have a much easier time stealing a win on the road.
#2- Run the Ball for At Least 100 yards- With Steven Jackson out this week with a thigh injury, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling will be filling the void at running back. These two running backs are very capable of stringing together 100 yards. Rodgers will most likely get more carries, but Snelling is a great change of pace from Rodgers. Rodgers is quick and has great hands, and Snelling is a pound back with decent speed. The Falcons will run it about 20 times, and it would be a huge achievement to string together 100 yards.
#3- Force the Deep Ball- This may seem odd, but the Falcons are going to be without Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Biermann. Biermann was our best defensive tight end stopper, and Weatherspoon is our best linebacker. Our vulnerable spot is the middle of field. Their slot receivers can go crazy in this game. If we force Tannehill to throw over the top, I have faith in our young corners to shut down Mike Wallace.
#4- Tony Gonzalez Needs to Have More Receptions than Julio Jones- Julio Jones is going to have a great game in nearly every game the Falcons play this year. His stats are going to be even better when Roddy White is out with injuries because he inherits much of White’s targets. The only problem is Matt Ryan can’t turn into Matthew Stafford and only throw to one receiver.
Drawing attention away from Julio will open up the field. Tony Gonzalez can do exactly that. It will be imperative that Matt Ryan looks to Tony on his first checkdown for the majority of the plays to open up the field, which opens up the run game.
#5- Let Ryan Tannehill Beat You- Tannehill is still only a second year quarterback. He is bound to make mistakes. The Falcons still have an incredible defensive coordinator in Mike Nolan. He is the same man who forced Peyton Manning into throwing three interceptions in one game. If we throw a few different looks at Tannehill, he is bound to make mistakes. If Tannehill out performs Matt Ryan, they deserve to win the game. I have a feeling he won’t.