The big story going into Friday's preseason opener for the Miami Dolphins was the debut of Bill Lazor's offense. The Dolphins hired Lazor this offseason from the Philadelphia Eagles to improve Miami's 27th-ranked offense.
It turns out Lazor's offense got off to a nice start. The Dolphins, led by third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, easily marched down the field for a 73-yard touchdown drive to highlight their 16-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Tannehill was 6-for-6 passing for 62 yards and a touchdown on the first drive. His passer rating was 149.3 and he couldn't have had a better start.
Miami's coaches pulled Tannehill after his stellar first drive, which surely will build confidence. Tannehill and Lazor are perhaps the biggest keys to getting Miami over the hump this season.
Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' first preseason game of the year:
For an offense to have a successful scoring drive, the line must be effective. Miami's first-team offensive line, with five new starters, held up well on the opening drive. Tannehill was not sacked on the 10-play drive. New center Samson Satele got the start after just three practices and held his own. Friday was a very small sample size for Miami's first-team offensive line, but it was promising.
Miami's first-team defense didn't get off to an impressive start. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan carved up Miami's defense by going 7-for-7 for 53 yards on the Falcons' touchdown drive. The Dolphins struggled with tackling and penalties on the drive, which was an issue at times for Miami's defense last season. This is an area where the Dolphins must improve.
Dolphins rookie receiver Jarvis Landry has been the talk of training camp. Landry also flashed in Friday's exhibition opener with a 48-yard punt return to set up a second-quarter field goal. Landry also had a 26-yard kickoff return. The rookie is competing with return specialist Marcus Thigpen for both spots on special teams as well as the slot receiver position.
Another player who showed up well was 2013 third-round cornerback Will Davis. Atlanta backup quarterback T.J. Yates tested Davis often but without a lot of success. Davis had three passes defended in the game. Davis is competing to be Miami's third cornerback behind starters Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan.
The Dolphins played second-year defensive end Dion Jordan a lot in this preseason opener. Jordan is in an interesting situation because he must serve a four-game suspension to start the regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances. The Dolphins played Jordan in the first three quarters with the first team and the backups. He finished with one tackle. Miami is trying to get Jordan enough reps that he will be ready after his suspension is over at the end of September.