MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons played a football game here Friday night. Well, at least some of them did. Twenty Dolphins starters, not including Jalen Ramsey, sat out Friday’s game. But that doesn’t mean the game was meaningless — far from it.
In our Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins winners and losers recap, we discuss the good and the bad, but we ignore the largely irrelevant.
Winners and Losers From Dolphins/Falcons: Familiar Face Flashes for Miami
Winner | RB Myles Gaskin
Don’t lock that regular season running back room in yet. Myles Gaskin still has something to say about what that Week 1 depth chart will look like.
Gaskin, who has been the No. 5 back in training camp, was second to none on this night.
He carried the ball seven times for 57 yards in the first half — 35 of which came on an excellent run straight up the gut. Gaskin — two also caught two balls for 20 yards — made a sick move on Micah Abernathy to get to the third level, turning a solid night into a sparkling one.
— Josh Moser (@TheMozKnowz) August 11, 2023
Gaskin’s competition for the No. 4 RB job, Salvon Ahmed, barely saw the field in the first half — getting four snaps on offense, four on special teams.
He caught one pass for six yards.
Loser | Skylar Thompson
The QB2 competition might soon have a resolution. If Skylar Thompson doesn’t ball out next week against the Texans — both in practice and in the game — Mike White will almost certainly be Tua Tagovailoa’s backup.
And it wasn’t like White was excellent. The Dolphins scored zero points when he was on the field. But at least they moved the ball and looked competent.
Everything slowed down when Thompson was on the field — both pre-snap and post.
Thompson took a bad sack on his first drive, and then took a delay of game penalty on the next snap. Thompson also threw a bad pick late in the third quarter.
Lukas Denis picks off Skylar Thompson for the Falcons 2nd INT of the game pic.twitter.com/S9AWCSCKbZ
— ً. (@InBijanWeTrust) August 12, 2023
Again, White wasn’t great. But he was better than Thompson against superior competition.
Winner | WR Erik Ezukanma
Some people just show up in preseason games. Erik Ezukanma is one of those people.
Ezukanma averaged 15.6 yards per catch in the exhibition season as a rookie, but did it with his legs Friday night.
He took two handoffs in the first half and turned them into 52 yards, showing breakaway speed and elusiveness. He has a big body but the moves of a much smaller man. McDaniel should find a role for him this fall.
Loser | Dolphins’ Red-Zone Offense
We banged on the Dolphins’ offense this week pretty good, and we stand by our assessment that it needs significant work — even after averaging 6.4 yards per play in the first half.
That means nothing if you score zero points in three red zone drives. The Dolphins had two failed fourth-down conversions and Mike White — who is in a battle with Skylar Thompson for QB2 — threw a bad pass into tight coverage that the Falcons first deflected and then intercepted.
Red-zone efficiency was actually a strength for the Dolphins in 2022. They ranked 10th in that metric (scoring touchdowns on 60% of their opportunities).
Winner | Butch Barry
The offensive line is the biggest question mark for the Dolphins beyond Tua Tagovailoa’s durability, but new OL coach Butch Barry had his guys ready to play Friday.
Sure, there were a handful of sacks, but at least one was on Thompson.
Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson were the only two Dolphins starters who played on either side of the ball, and they weren’t noticeable — which is the best thing you can say about an offensive lineman.
Loser | Dolphins’ Run Defense
We’re pretty much nitpicking here when it comes to Vic Fangio’s debut as Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator. His group did an excellent job, particularly considering the Dolphins were largely without their playmakers.
Cam Smith made multiple splash plays in his pseudo-NFL debut, and it was great to see Emmanuel Ogbah back out there after a lost 2022.
But the run defense was a bit leaky — particularly in the first half, when the Dolphins gave up 69 yards on 12 carries. That includes a 11-yard touchdown run by Godwin Igwebuike, which was set up by excellent blocking, particularly by Tucker Fisk, who buried DeShon Elliott.