2023 Preseason: Winners and Losers from the Atlanta Falcons game with the Miami Dolphins

The Atlanta Falcons beat the Miami Dolphins on the back of a dominant defensive performance.
Atlanta Falcons v Miami Dolphins
Atlanta Falcons v Miami Dolphins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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The new-look Atlanta Falcons won against the Dolphins in Miami for their first preseason game of 2023 by a score of 19-3. The offense stalled out a lot due to errant passing, but the defense and special teams looked fantastic throughout the game. Atlanta was able to stop three red zone drives to allow no points on the game all day. They also scored a defensive touchdown and special teams touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the game. They weren't able to take advantage of any of the turnovers to create points—something that must rectify itself moving forward.

Winner: S DeMarcco Hellams

DeMarcco Hellams was a seventh round pick because there were perceived coverage deficiencies, but it looks like a lot of that was schematic at Alabama. He fits what Atlanta is trying to do much better and has shown that he can play effectively in coverage as seen by his multiple smashing hits on Miami receivers. He also played well on special teams and showed that he can be efficient in coverage with good trail technique on his interception that he got off of a deflected pass. Atlanta has a good depth safety here with Hellams, and he should make the roster over Micah Abernathy if the Falcons only keep four safeties.

Winner: DC Ryan Nielsen and AHC/Defense Jerry Gray

If this is what the defense looks like with backups and third stringers, what could it look like with a whole corps of starters? The defense forced four turnovers, had five sacks, and was able to force two fourth down stops inside the red zone. The influence of Ryan Nielsen and Jerry Gray was seen on the defense with the improved coverage all-around and what looks like an actually competent pass rush. It will be fun to see how good the defense looks with starters in it instead.