FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone said he's beaten Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in golf every time they've played over the last 20 years.
Now, the two will duel in joint practices.
The Falcons travel down south to get a taste of (somewhat) real action against the Dolphins during practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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"They get to go against somebody different, it's competition," Ragone said. "There's nothing that simulates that kind of environment."
The Dolphins' top projected defense will pose an interesting challenge against the Falcons offense, which looks to take a big leap this year.
Miami possessed top-10 in rushing defense last season then traded for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey to strengthen the passing coverage. Though, the Falcons won't be seeing the three-time All-Pro after Ramsey recently underwent knee surgery. Instead, the Falcons will face veteran Eli Apple. Still, the Dolphins have a projected top defense even with Ramsey out of the lineup.
Last season Atlanta finished third in rushing offense. Then the Falcons deepened their backfield and drafted running back Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall. Meanwhile, crucial pieces Desmond Ridder, Drake London and Tyler Allgeier all get more experience in their sophomore season in hopes level up the offense.
Offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom, Pro Football Focus ' No. 1 ranked guard, is excited at the progress of the offense so far.
"To see some of the plays that guys make out there, either the catches or the runs that they're able to find or finding the right hole — it's pretty amazing," Lindstrom said.
That's just what Lindstrom sees while on the field. Watching film after practice, he said really gets to appreciate the spectacular plays made by key players.
Lindstrom and the rest of the offensive line will be integral in setting up the Falcons' offense, including center Drew Dalman.
Dalman is eager for that change of pace in joint practices and to test out their technique on another opponent.
"This is an offense that plays fast, plays physical, executes, always puts the pressure on the defense," Dalman said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing how we progress and how we run our scheme."
Ragone hopes to build a "library of improvement" heading into actual gameplay. That doesn't mean every pass is completed rather taking steps to not make the same mistake twice, and work out those kinks now before the season starts.
"You can't get enough of that work," head coach Arthur Smith said. "It's one more step to play real football."
The next step culminates with the first preseason game Friday, Aug. 11 against Miami at Hardrock Stadium.
Starters won't get much time in the preseason, but players like quarterback Logan Woodside and wide receiver Penny Hart will.
Ragone raved about Woodside's firey competitive nature in both individual and team drills. Like Woodside, Hart noted Ridder's mentality to win. A mentality that Hart's seen in other quarterbacks he's played with, including Russell Wilson.
Strides that will all be put to the test in South Beach.
"We feel like everybody's pushing in the right direction," Ragone said. "And when you feel that you can't wait to hit the practice field."
Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch during the 2023 AT&T Training Camp.