It's a Preseason loss, which really does not mean much, though we would all have like to see the Miami Dolphins beat the Atlanta Falcons in Friday night's exhibition season debut. Instead, the Falcons were able to lock up a 16-10 victory thanks to some late game field goals, while the Dolphins were unable to match.
The Dolphins' had some strong performances during the game, especially from younger players on the depth chart. Linebackers Chris McCain and Jordan Tripp both had strong nights, as well as wide receiver Jarvis Landry and defensive end Terrence Fede. The younger players seemed to take advantage of their chance to shine during a game when most starters do not play very long.
Who had the best performance of the night?
Preseason Week 1 Game Ball
Ja'Wuan James, offensive tackle
Not enough can be said of the performance put in by Miami first round draft choice Ja'Wuan James. The rookie from Tennessee played exactly half the offensive snaps on the day, the most of any lineman for Miami, and he never had an issue. His name was not called on a penalty. He did not give up a sack. He took his first snaps as a professional in a live situation - albeit a preseason situation - and he did not get noticed. Exactly what you want from an offensive lineman.
James was not, by any means, perfect on the night. He needs to improve on his run blocking, but playing offensive line on a team that allowed 58 sacks last year and is starting five new offensive linemen this year, not allowing a sack and not being called for a penalty - despite the flag-happy referees in the game - is exactly what the team needed. The fact that he stayed in the game for 30 snaps, triple what most of the starters played for Miami, gave him some of the experience that he needs.
There was nothing spectacular about James' performance on Friday, but there did not need to be anything spectacular. There needed to be a solid performance, and a performance on which the rookie can build. That's exactly what happened.
Fede's ability to get after the quarterback, despite not recording a sack, and Tripp's three tackles and a pass defense, both deserve consideration, as well as the three reception, 57 yard night from tight end Brett Brackett.