Against the Dolphins this week, the Falcons will have a dress rehearsal of sorts for the regular season. The starters, according to head coach Mike Smith, will play into the third quarter. Starting players know this is their final warmup for the regular season. The preseason's fourth game will be played by mostly backups to determine the final spots on the roster.
With camp ending on Sunday, this week will be spent working on a regular season schedule with Monday (what would typically be a Wednesday in a regular week) being the day that the game game plan is installed. Coaches and players alike point to the third game as the real test for what they've accomplished in training camp.
"It'll give us an opportunity, this year more than any, for our coaching staff to make adjustments with the guys that are going to go out there and play," Smith said on Monday. "In the first two preseason games the starters were out before halftime. Our plan is to take them through halftime, get back out on the field and see how we've made our adjustments as a coaching staff. It'll be just as much for our coaching staff as our players."
One key for the Falcons offense against Miami is to improve redzone efficiency. In the first two quarters of play in the preseason's first two games, the Falcons have scored touchdowns in the redzone just over 40 percent of the time. Quarterback Matt Ryan, under center for the majority of those four quarters this preseason, said that's something they're working on this week in practice.
"We've been down there a couple of times, we just need to try to continue to finish those drives off," Ryan said. "We've been working hard on that in practice and I think that's something that hopefully we'll do better in the game on Friday."
Atlanta has been in the redzone seven times during Ryan's four quarters of work, scoring three touchdowns. They've also managed two field goals when they've been inside the 20-yard line.