The first quarter in this first preseason week is the key quarter to watch. That’s when the starters are in.
Atlanta’s starters absolutely shreded the Dolphins starters on Friday night.
At the end of the first quarter, the Falcons had a 17-0 lead. They picked up ten first downs to one for Miami. (On a Chad Henne run.) Atlanta gained 159 yards to 17 for the Dolphins.
Chad Henne threw five passes, completing one to a teammate, and two to the Falcons. (In fairness, a bad Anthony Fasano drop led to one of the interceptions.) He also took a couple of big shots.
Falcons rookie receiver Julio Jones quickly showed why Atlanta traded up for him. He caught two passes for 43 yards and gained a first down on a 12-yard end around. His after-catch burst was impressive. Jones beat the defense deep another time but Matt Ryan couldn’t connect with him.
It really couldn’t have been a better start for Atlanta. Wideouts Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier, and Eric Weems all made nice plays early to show Atlanta’s receiving group may be far deeper than last year.
There weren’t any “We want Orton!” chants in Atlanta, but the start couldn’t have been much uglier for Miami.
UPDATE: Tony Sparano smartly left Henne out there against the Falcons backups. After picking up a third and long with his legs, the Dolphins went on a touchdown drive in the second quarter.
Brian Hartline caught a 44-yard touchdown on a blown coverage. 17-7 Atlanta early in the second quarter. Henne figures to leave now.