Falcons Defense ‘Kills’ Dolphins O-Line, Miami Has Its ‘Worst Practice of the Year’

Dean Pees and Arthur Smith

Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees of the Atlanta Falcons with Head Coach Arthur Smith during training camp on July 30, 2021.

On Wednesday the Atlanta Falcons had the first of two joint practices with the Miami Dolphins, and by all accounts, Atlanta’s front seven completely manhandled Miami’s first-team offensive line.

Aaron Freeman, host of the Locked on Falcons podcast, related the following exchange he had with a Dolphins source during practice.

That echoes a tweet sent by Cameron Wolfe, a reporter for NFL Network:

In a post-practice video selfie, Wolfe went on to explain that Atlanta’s front 7 was “whooping up on the Dolphins offensive line at lot today,” with Wolfe counting “five or six would-be sacks,” if the teams were actually tackling.

As to the individual players who were “flashing” during today’s session, Wolfe mentioned Grady Jarrett, who was “having his way” with the linemen opposite him. But Wolfe also highlighted the work of Steven Means and Dante Fowler.

As for the five or six sacks, Omar Kelly, NFL columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, believes that may be a conservative estimate.

All of the above is a positive sign for Atlanta’s defensive line unit, which is also expected to feature rookie Ade Ogundeji, who continues to get first-team reps—a very pleasant surprise considering that he’s a fifth-round draft pick.

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Praises Dean Pees, the Falcons Defense

Atlanta’s defensive effort on Wednesday sure seemed to impress Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

During his post-practice press conference, he went out of his way to credit Atlanta’s coaching and personnel.

“I think their D.C. does a great job, and their defense overall does a great job disguising looks,” said Tagovailoa. “They have a lot of good players on their team and they do a great job communicating what they wanna do and what they want to accomplish.”

Tagovailoa recognized that his offense will need to improve substantially if it hopes to have success in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Falcons.

“I think today for us offensively we’ve gotta be a lot better operationally, getting on the ball quicker and seeing what the defense is giving us,” he concluded.

Miami’s Offensive Line Has Been Struggling

One does need to point out, though, that most NFL observers view Miami’s offensive line as one of the weakest units in the league, despite the fact that it features more than its share of premium draft picks, including left tackle Austin Jackson, who was selected No. 18 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

For one, Pro Football Focus ranks the Dolphins as having the No. 29 offensive line in the league entering the 2021 season. Moreover, the unit struggled mightily against the Chicago Bears in the team’s preseason opener, which prompted the front office to trade a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for third-year offensive tackle Greg Little, who was a second-round pick in 2019.

The two teams will practice together again on Thursday, which ought to provide further insight into the quality of Atlanta’s first-team defense, a unit that doesn’t figure to play much when the Falcons and Dolphins tangle at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Saturday evening.

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