Five Things the Washington Redskins Must Do To Beat the Atlanta Falcons
Robert Griffin III Must Continue To Play Efficiently
Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III is playing with a maturity beyond his first four NFL games. Lost amidst the strong arm, quick feet, and big play potential Griffin III possesses is the fact that he has turned the ball over only twice in his first four games. That is a great accomplishment, considering the tremendous beating Griffin III takes from opposing defenses because of the inconsistent play of the Washington offensive line.
Washington Redskins’ fans cannot expect Griffin III to commit only two turnovers for the rest of the 2012 NFL season. The Atlanta Falcons have an extremely opportunistic defense. They have a plus ten turnover differential, which leads the NFL. That total includes three interceptions recorded by Atlanta against Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning during the Falcons’ Week Three victory over the Broncos.
Griffin III must continue to make good decisions in an effort to keep Atlanta’s efficient offense off the field. He must stay in the pocket, and only take off running if he absolutely has to. Taking a sack or throwing the ball away can be beneficial to the Redskins’ offense because these plays can preserve possessions for Washington. If Griffin III tries to do too much, he could be prone to turning the ball over. Trying to defeat a great team like Atlanta is difficult enough when opponents are at their best. If the Redskins begin to turn the ball over, they will have no chance to defeat the Falcons.
If Griffin III can continue his solid and efficient play at the quarterback position, Washington could pull off the upset against the Falcons.
Alfred Morris Must Continue To Lead Washington's Rushing Attack
Any mention of the Washington Redskins’ offense has to include the contributions of rookie running back Alfred Morris. He leads the team in rushing, as well as rushing touchdowns with four. He possesses the power and speed that many teams look for in a featured running back. Morris is also capable of becoming the workhorse type of back that can carry the ball 20 to 25 times a game. He has not fumbled the ball yet this season. Morris also needs to become more proficient in pass protection, as well as a receiver. If he can show some efficiency in those two areas, it would alleviate the pressure on Griffin III to make a spectacular play.
Pierre Garcon Must Return To Early Season Form
The return of Washington Redskins’ wide receiver Pierre Garcon in Week Four gave the Redskins’ offense a boost. Although Garcon caught one pass for twenty yards against the Buccaneers, he did recover a Griffin III fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Garcon was signed by Washington before the 2012 season to become Griffin III’s main deep passing threat. However, an injury to his right foot during the Redskins’ Week One victory against the New Orleans Saints sidelined him for two games. Washington Redskins’ fans hope Garcon will be closer to the form he displayed against the Saints. If he is, the Redskins’ chances of victory increase significantly.
Billy Cundiff Needs To Sustain Confidence
The special teams unit of the Washington Redskins has been mediocre at best. Diminutive return man Brandon Banks has been solid, if not spectacular, averaging 25 yards per kickoff return. If Banks can slightly improve on his average, it would give Washington excellent field position on offense. It would also alleviate pressure on the defense if the Redskins’ offense stalls and has to punt.
Washington’s placekicking duties leave a lot to be desired. Placekicker Billy Cundiff missed three of four field goals in Washington’s Week Four victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s disheartening for the offense to drive down the field, only to come away with no points because of missed field goals. If Cundiff can build on the momentum of the one kick he did make, which won the game for Washington, it would go a long way towards rebuilding his confidence.
Atlanta Falcons' John Abraham Must Be Contained
The return of Washington Redskins’ left tackle Trent Williams marked the return of the unit’s best player. During the Week Four victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington’s offensive line only allowed Griffin III to be sacked once. They have also created running lanes for the NFL’s second leading rushing attack. The frontline of Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, and Tyler Polumbus need to sustain their solid efforts against the Falcons. Atlanta’s pass rush is anchored by defensive end John Abraham, who leads the team with three sacks, and has earned 115 sacks during his 13 year career. Keeping Griffin III upright is paramount for the Redskins to defeat the Falcons.
Pressure Atlanta Falcons' Quarterback Matt Ryan
When Washington Redskins’ right outside linebacker Brian Orakpo was lost for the season due to a torn pectoral muscle, a huge part of the Redskins’ pass rush was eliminated. Left outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan will face more double teams in an effort to not only limit his pass rushing opportunities, but to prevent him from batting down opposing quarterbacks’ passes.
Washington’s frontline of Jarvis Jenkins, Barry Cofield, and Stephen Bowen has yet to record a sack in 2012. They must generate some kind of pass rush to make Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan uncomfortable. Washington’s lack of a pass rush puts considerable pressure on the Redskins’ secondary, which has not proven capable of containing any opposing quarterback. If Jenkins, Cofield, or Bowen can generate pressure on Ryan (or even record any sacks), it could go a long way towards energizing a much maligned Washington defense.