The Atlanta Falcons are 4-0 and flying high as one of only three undefeated teams left in the NFL. Everything is looking good for the Falcons but they did show some signs of weakness in their come from behind win against the Carolina Panthers. Next up on the Falcons list is the Washington Redskins. So far the Redskins are off to a 2-2 start and are among the league leaders in many offensive categories. To learn more about the our next opponents we talked with Anthony Brown of Redskins Hog Heaven.
Grits Blitz: Robert Griffin has had stunning success as a rookie, however, his impressive play has come against some poor defenses like the Saints and Bucs. Do you expect to see RGIII stumble a bit against the better, more complicated defenses early on in his rookie year (It is still unclear if Atlanta would be that better defense but I'm pretty sure we are superior to the Saints)?
Redskins Hog Heaven: Griffin III is on a pace to rush for 1000 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns and 3000 passing yards with 16+ TD passes to 4 INTs. I would be astounded if he maintained that performance in the second half of the season when the Redskins play AFC North and NFC East teams. Even Cleveland has a rugged defense. I expect the Shanahans to call fewer designed runs for Griffin as we go through the season. I hope to see RG3 maintain his 70 percent completion rate and keep his YPA above 7.0.
Grits Blitz: What non-RGIII offensive player should the Falcons be most worried about on Sunday?
Redskins Hog Heaven Alfred Morris will be a candidate for offensive Rookie of the Year. He is big. He is rugged. He's scored a touchdown in every game, so far. he averages more per carry than Trent Richardson. He is a perfect complement to RG3. The threat of Griffin's running opens the door for Morris. Morris makes play-action more effective for Griffin. The guy is another of those Shanahan finds.
Grits Blitz: How have the Redskins adjusted to the big losses of Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker?
Redskins Hog Heaven: Second-year DE Jarvis Jenkins stepped in for Carriker. Jenkins drew raves in his rookie training camp last season, then he tore his ACL during preseason and was lost for the year. He was in the rotation with Carriker with the expectation of seeing more snaps as the season progressed to be the eventual starter. Carriker's injury accelerated the plan by about six games.
No one replaces Brian Orakpo. The team is adapting with four-year man Rob Jackson stepping in for Orakpo and being credible enough that Ryan Kerrigan can wreak havoc from his ROLB position. Kerrigan is off to a great start. Kerrigan with Orakpo made the Redskins a top-tier pass rush defense.
Grits Blitz: The Redskins defense is currently ranked 29th in yards/game and 27th in points allowed. What have been the biggest issues with the defense?
Redskins Hog Heaven: Injury and suspension, my friend. Injury and suspension. To begin, the coaching staff lost patience with S LaRon Landry who missed most of the last two seasons with a series of leg injuries. Landry resisted surgery recommended by everybody, including Dr. James Andrews. (Who does that?) Landry preferred a stem cell therapy that was never well explained by local media. His body. His choice. The Redskins let him walk at the end of his contract. I agreed with the decision at the time. I won't criticize the team now, even when I see Landry starting for the Jets.
Shanahan brought in Tanard Jackson, Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams at safety and Raheem Morris to coach the defensive backs. Jackson's season went up in smoke when he was suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL substance abuse abuse policy. Meriweather was out injured for the first three games and missed Sunday's game after a freak collision with a teammate ... during warm-ups. (Who does that No. 2?) Williams is showing his age.
New coaches bring new methods. That may be in play with Morris and his defensive schemes. There are no negative reports about Coach Morris, but the secondary is atrocious and the pass rush cannot bring enough pressure to make up for it. However, they are creating turnovers better than last year. It was a secret that worked for the Patriots. I expect to see gradual improvement, but the talent level is what it is.
Editor Note: The Washington Post is reporting Meriweather will miss at least a week.
Grits Blitz: Where do you see the Redskins as having an advantage over the Falcons?
Redskins Hog Heaven:Any advantage the Redskins have is offset by the defensive secondary. I don't think our corners can cope with Atlanta's receivers. I haven't seen enough of OLB Rob Jackson to know if he can cover Tony Gonzales.
Washington's offense is creative. RG3 is elusive. Opponents haven't seen enough of an evolving system to quite figure it out. That will come after eight games. Robert Griffin has driven the team downfield to get in a position to win in three of the last four games. Last Sunday, they finished the job in the last seconds.That's the advantage; with RG3, the 'Skins are never out of it. Even as a homer Redskins fan, I don't think it will be enough against the Falcons.
Big thanks to Anthony for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions about the Redskins. Make sure you check out his site Redskins Hog Heaven and learn a bit about our opponent for this weekend. Also, thanks to Matt, AKA @mFalcons5, for helping me out with some questions.
Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.