Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Falcons showdown at FedExField.
“Redskins-Falcons: 4 Keys To the Game” is presented by Papa John’s.
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LESS IS NOT MORRIS
The big question heading into Tampa Bay last week was whether rookie running back
Morris answered that emphatically, registering a career-high for yards (113), including a career-long 39-yard touchdown rush up the middle.
Morris is currently ranked fifth in the league for rushing yards (376), third in attempts per game (20.5), and first in rushing touchdowns (four). He leads the Redskins' second-ranked rushing offense (171.0 yards per game) against the Falcons' 29th-ranked rushing defense (146.2 yards per game), and looks to have a huge day at home.
O-LINE LOOKING FINE
Against the Saints in Week 1, Griffin III was sacked twice while passing for 320 yards. Against the Rams and Bengals in Weeks 3 and 4, Griffin III was punished, taking dozens of late hits and weathering six sacks. He threw for only 427 combined yards in those games. Last week, the protection scheme got back on track, and Griffin III was sacked only once while throwing for a career-high 323 yards.
All NFL offenses operate most-successfully in a rhythm, and Griffin III seems to be finding his comfort level with the protections scheme. If the pass protection can buy him time again on Sunday, Griffin III should have success, even against the NFL's eighth-ranked passing defense.
AVOID THE SHOOTOUT
With the NFL's No. 3 and No. 4 offenses meeting on Sunday, the natural inclination will be to get in a shootout with the Falcons. While the Redskins probably have the firepower to match scores with the Dirty Birds, they would be wise to keep Matt Ryan and company off the field.
The Redskins are currently ranked third in the league in time of possession, controlling the ball for more than 33 minutes per game. Even with the limited minutes on the field, the Redskins defense has still struggled with consistency, blowing 15-point leads in two games this season.
Both teams bring fast, physical receivers to the game, and the Redskins will need to maintain a balanced attack. But especially in front of the home crowd, rely on high-percentage passes and the running game to control the pace of the game and play clock. If they give the Falcons' offense too much time on the field, they may soon regret it.
The Falcons may boast two of the NFL's most exciting playmakers in Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, but the straw that stirs Atlanta's drink is receiver Roddy White.
Through four games this season, White is averaging 103.2 yards per game, with a long reception of 59 yards and five catches over 20 yards. He is physical in the open field and clutch in the red zone, tallying three touchdowns and converting more than 85 percent of his receptions for first downs.
Gonzalez has lost a step in his 16th season and Jones has battled an injured hand this season, but White has the ability to hurt the secondary all day long. If there's a key piece to the Falcons puzzle, the Redskins will need to stop White.