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Falcons at Dolphins: Revisiting Miami’s 5 storylines from 23-20 victory

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the Miami Dolphins beat the Atlanta Falcons 23-20 in the first preseason game of the year for each team. The final score of the game is not the relevant part of the game, however, as it does not have any impact on how either team will do this season. The game’s importance was more in the young players on the field and seeing exactly what the Dolphins will have this year.

Before the game, we took a look at five storylines to watch in the game. Now, it is time to take a look back at those storylines, and see what happened.

1. Matt Moore and the offense.

Well, Moore was on the field for all of three plays and was 1-for-1 for five yards, finding wide receiver DeVante Parker on his one attempt. With all of the injuries that Miami has sustained lately, getting Moore and most of the starting offense off the field as quickly as possible makes a lot of sense. Moore did not have a chance to put any pressure on assumed starter Jay Cutler because of the cameo appearance of the starting lineup.

2. Jordan Phillips’ make-or-break year begins.

Jordan Phillips played 20 snaps during the game, or 29 percent of the defensive play time. That goes against expectations from the pre-game five storylines article, where it was assumed Phillips would see plenty of playing time in an effort to see how he would respond. Consistency is the issue with Phillips, and 20 snaps is hard to judge for consistency. He did not record a tackle in the game, but did have one holding penalty called against him. The questions about Phillips will continue into this week.

3. Cornerbacks.

The starting defense for the Dolphins featured Byron Maxwell, Bobby McCain, and Xavien Howard, exactly like it should have been expected. The rotation throughout the rest of the game featured all of the rest of the cornerbacks, with Cordrea Tankersley, Jordan Lucas, and Lafayette Pitts all seeing the most playing time. The group as a whole seemed to have some fine moments and some confusing moments. It is definitely still a work in progress, as should probably be expected this early in the preseason, but the depth at the spot has clearly been surpassed by the depth at the Dolphins’ wide receiver group.

4. Jakeem Grant and the return game.

Jakeem Grant’s highlight for this game came on one of his two receptions, when he went up high to catch a pass that seemed to be overthrown, especially since it was targeting a 5-foot-7 receiver. On special teams Grant returned three punts, downing one for a touchback, returning one for five yards and one for a three-yard loss. He did not do enough to show that he can be a full-time punt returner, but he does seem to be the first choice for the team right now. He did not return kicks, where Storm Johnson was the primary returner.

5. Charles Harris and Raekwon McMillan.

Obviously, this was a highlight and lowlight for the Dolphins on Thursday. Charles Harris, the team’s 2017 first-round pick, did not record a tackle, but he was active and getting after the quarterback throughout his 33 snaps played. He has some improvements to make, relying mostly on his speed rush around the outside of the tackle, but he shoed the explosive first step and nearly recorded a sack before the quarterback managed to spin out of the way. Raekwon McMillan, Miami’s second-round pick this year, stepped on the field for one snap, working in punt coverage, before his rookie season ended. McMillan was blocked into a couple of players on the ground and tore his ACL, ending his year and leading to the Dolphins to have to try to find a replacement as the team’s starting middle linebacker. Any excitement of seeing the Dolphins’ top draft picks this year seemed to end as McMillan laid on the ground of Hard Rock Stadium.