Redskins vs. Falcons Should be a High Scoring Affair
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- Buy a plane ticket to Las Vegas, NV.
- Scrape together every penny you can – IRA, kid’s education fund, grandma’s social security checks – and bet it on the OVER of Sunday’s Redskins/Falcon’s game.
- Collect duckets.
If you love hard-nosed defense, this may be the kind of game that makes you nostalgic for the olden days, when men with leather helmets muscled out victory through attrition in multiple clouds of dust. The Falcons are 3rd in the NFL in points per game at 31, just a hair above the Skins at 30.8.
Despite their 4-0 record, the Falcons are near the bottom in every meaningful statistical category against the run. They have allowed the 4th-most total rushing yards (585), are 2nd-worst in yards per carry (5.2) as well rushing TDs allowed (6), and are 3rd worst in the number of first downs (35) surrendered to the rush.
And who are they facing this week? The number one rushing team in the NFL, your Washington Redskins.
The Redskins run on first down the majority of the time, including about 60% vs. the Bucs (including plays where penalties were called and the down was replayed). As the game wears on, tired defenses do not want to see the NFL’s 5th leading rusher, Alfred Morris, come barreling down on them time and time again. And they definitely don’t want to see RG3–the 16th leading rusher in the NFL, incidentally–get the corner, because he’ll get yards in chunks.
Griffin and Morris’ rushing success has opened up the passing game, to the point where if you remove the last 5 dropbacks during RG3’s game-winning drive against Tampa Bay, the Redskins ran play action on basically half (47%) of all their dropbacks (this includes plays that were clearly intended as passes but turned into QB scrambles). It’s a big reason why Robert Griffin III is completing 69.4% of his passes on the season, which is just a SICK percentage for anyone, but especially mind-boggling for a rookie.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the tracks, there’s a bit of a problem, you see. Don’t know if you’ve heard anything about this yet, maybe it has been mentioned once or twice, but it seems as if the Redskins have had a wee bit of difficulty covering wide receivers. Just a little tiny bit of trouble, here and there.
The high-flying Atlanta Falcons have a similar strength-against-weakness punch in the passing game as the Redskins do with their running attack. In fact, few teams are better prepared to exploit the Redskins’ wide open freeway in the secondary than the Falcons. Their three-headed monster of Julio Jones, Roddy White and the ageless Tony Gonzalez, who at the age of 36 is having one of the best seasons in his Hall of Fame career, must be just slightly more excited about this match-up than fantasy owners of Falcon’s receivers.
Earlier, I mentioned that RG3 had an astounding 69.4% completion rate, which is 2nd in the NFL only to reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers’ 69.9%. More accurately, he’s tied for 2nd…with the Falcon’s Matt Ryan.
Now for the really scary numbers. In the past 2 games, the Redskins have given up pass plays of 78, 48, 59, 65 and 54 yards, and 3 opposing receivers have notched at least 100 yards. Much has been made about Jim Haslett’s cover-0 blitz package, and that seems like an appropriate name, because zero is just about the amount of coverage the secondary has been marshaling.
Sometimes it seems like the Redskins can’t cover anyone, but the breakdowns aren’t on every play. The problem is that any Falcons WR left with one-on-one coverage will win his match-up more often than not. And If the Skins decide to play cover two and double both Jones and White (and when have you seen Haslett do that with any regularity), Gonzalez and RB Michael Turner will kill you slowly if you prefer not to get it over with in a hurry.
Even with double coverage, one has to wonder if the skill level in the Skins secondary can keep guys like Jones and White out of the end zone.
If you watch enough sports analysis on TV, it won’t be long before you hear some ex-player say that such-and-such team doesn’t have an identity or they are searching for one. Some may say the Redskins are in that category, but I beg to differ.
They have an identity, same one they had when the Hogs were paving the way to glory all those years ago. Pound the ball early and often and look for big plays when they are there. Because the only way–and I mean the only snowball's chance in hell they have to beat the Atlanta Falcons–is to win the time of possession battle around a 2-1 basis. Otherwise, the Falcons can, and probably will, paste 40+ on the board.
The other part of the Redskins identity, and the one that should make every member of the Redskins fan base thrilled, is the guy wearing the #10 jersey. If the secondary can keep the game close into the 4th quarter, the Redskins will have a fighting chance to win.