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Dolphins vs. Falcons: 3 Must-Watch Matchups

Wide receiver Mike Wallace will likely be covered by rookie Desmond Trufant on Sunday

It will be a battle of two banged up but still formidable teams this Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. The Miami Dolphins will be looking for their first 3-0 start in over a decade against a Atlanta Falcons team that owns Super Bowl aspirations.

Sunday should serve as a barometer for the Dolphins in their bid to become a true contender in their division and conference. Here are my top three matchups for Week 3:

Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll vs. Julio Jones

The Dolphins might not have to face a Falcons wideout who has accrued six consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Roddy White sat out practice on Wednesday and only had a minimal impact in Weeks 1 and 2, as he continues to nurse an ankle injury.

But Miami still has a force to deal with in Julio Jones.

The former Alabama receiver was actually on the injury report last week, but that didn’t stop him from lighting up the Rams for 182 yards and a score this past Sunday. Jones particularly poses a problem for the Dolphins because he tends to line up on the left side of the Falcons’ offensive formation.

Atlanta does move him around quite a bit, but if they’re wise, they will keep him on the left side as much as possible. That way he can avoid being covered by the Dolphins’ top cornerback and former Falcon, Brent Grimes.

Staying put on the left would mean Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll would be responsible for containing him. Both cornerbacks have exceeded expectations so far, but continuing to do so against a beast like Jones is unlikely.

Obviously, Patterson sat out Sunday’s game in Indianapolis with a groin injury and was limited at Wednesday’s practice. But chances are, he returns to the lineup this week. And if he does, he’ll likely attempt to handle Jones in Miami’s base defense before handing those duties over to Carroll in the nickel package.

Jones will probably get his. He’s just too good. But if the Dolphins can limit him to an 80 or 90-yard receiving day with no touchdowns, it would be a big win for Patterson and Carroll.

Jonathan Martin vs. Osi Umenyiora

The Falcons don’t possess an imposing pass rush, which will be a nice break for a Dolphins offensive line that has already conceded nine sacks. Atlanta has only produced two sacks, which is tied for the second fewest in football.

If there is one rusher who will be a big threat to quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, though, it’s Osi Umenyiora. The former New York Giant hasn’t brought down the quarterback for a sack in his first two games with his new team, but he’s been providing some pressure on the right side of the Atlanta defensive line and even produced his first career interception last week, which he returned 68 yards for a touchdown.

Umenyiora is likely licking his chops for Sunday’s matchup against Jonathan Martin, who has surrendered two sacks this season — both in Week 1. With no other proven rusher on the Falcons’ front, I would expect Miami to assist Martin with double teams and help from the backfield.

If Martin does an adequate job of keeping Umenyiora out of the pocket or the Dolphins can do so collectively, Tannehill should have sufficient time to connect with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline downfield against a young Atlanta secondary.

Mike Wallace vs. Desmond Trufant

Speaking of a young Atlanta secondary, Desmond Trufant is a rookie. A rookie who happens to be the Falcons’ No. 1 cornerback at the moment. And a rookie who will likely be assigned with the difficult task of covering one of the league’s most explosive playmakers in Miami’s Mike Wallace.

Wallace is fresh off of a nine catch, 115-yard receiving effort, in which he had one touchdown and was a Tannehill underthrow away from scoring twice. Trufant has played well in his first two games, but he’s yet to face a playmaker like Wallace, who is a threat to score on every snap.

The rookie has speed, running a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but doesn’t have the veteran know-how Wallace does. The Dolphins should test Trufant with a variety of routes from Wallace throughout, including a deep shot or two.

If there was a game Wallace was set to catch his first deep touchdown pass from Tannehill, I would expect it to be this one.


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2 Responses to “Dolphins vs. Falcons: 3 Must-Watch Matchups”

  1. Kyle says:

    Really like our WRs to have a huge game in this one, Falcons are talented but way too young in the secondary

  2. Dennis says:

    If they dont protect Tannehill this week there is no hope for this line #FIRELAND

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