Tale Of The Tape: Washington Redskins At Atlanta Falcons
- QuarterbackThe Redskins thought they would dominate the NFC East this year because of the advantage they get with Robert Griffin III at quarterback. That was never realistic because RGIII was coming off knee surgery and has never been at his best. RGIII has made too many mistakes this season and has not always taken responsibility for his on-field actions. Backup Kirk Cousins could get the call here.The word out of Atlanta is that owner Arthur Blank is not going to take any drastic measures with head coach Mike Smith despite the team’s failures this year. That’s good news for Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan, since the two have a strong relationship. Ryan is an accurate short passer, but he has not shown the ability to step up in big games.
- OffenseThe Redskins have the ability to take pressure off of RGIII (or Cousins) with the power running of Alfred Morris, who thrives on contact and will punish opposing tacklers. Still, they seem to forget this part of their game if they trail by more than a touchdown. Pierre Garcon is an accomplished receiver, but this has not been his best year. Leonard Hankerson is a decent third-down target.The Falcons have been hammered hard by injuries to wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Although White has returned, he has not been the game-changer that he has been in previous years. Harry Douglas has emerged as a solid receiving option for Ryan while Tony Gonzalez is still a decent target at tight end. Running back Steven Jackson has been ordinary since returning to the lineup.
- DefenseThe Redskins have been quite generous this season, primarily because they have been poor in coverage and give opposing receivers plenty of room to make plays. The team’s biggest problem is a lack of speed, and that’s going to be an issue against the Falcons. Linebackers Perry Riley and London Fletcher are tough and smart, but the Redskins don’t put enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks.The Falcons have always been a defense that relied on speed and quickness, but they lack size and strength and tend to get pushed around. The Falcons rank 30th against the run and Morris should be able to punish them consistently. The Falcons have gotten a lift from linebacker Paul Worrilow, who has emerged after starting the season as a backup.
- Special TeamsThe Redskins have been battling special-teams woes all season. They have been awful covering punts and return specialists Niles Paul and Josh Morgan have given them very little. Placekicker Kai Forbath has been below average, and punter Sav Rocca merits the same description.The Falcons thought they would get a lift from their special teams this season, but Robert McClain and Jacquizz Rodgers have given them very little. Placekicker Matt Bryant is once again one of the best in the NFL. He combines consistency with excellent leg strength.
This game between two of the most disappointing teams in the league is not the NFL at its best. The Falcons have homefield, the better special teams and a more stable coaching situation. That should allow them to get the victory. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor