By Matthew Asher
Both Washington and Atlanta are at 3-10 for the season, and are simply playing for pride in the final three weeks of the season. Washington head coach Mike Shanahan said he has two main goals for his team in the rest of the season: win the final three games and get RGIII to the off-season in no worse shape than he is right now. The first goal is heavily dependent upon the second one, as there is a chance Griffin III may sit against Atlanta this Sunday.
With that in mind, this will be under the assumption that Griffin III will be in the starting lineup. If it turns out he won’t be playing against the Falcons, the Dirty Birds job just got a lot easier.
Shut Down Pierre Garcon
Garcon is having a great season by nearly any measure of success. He’s caught almost 90 passes for more than 1,000 yards through 13 games, nearly double the amount that the next closest player on the team currently has. Only one player, Jordan Reed, has caught 45 passes for 499 yards and the next two receivers, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss, each have 30 catches for 375 and 362 yards, respectively. If Atlanta wants to shut down the passing game, their best way of doing it is to lock down Garcon and force the other receivers to earn their paychecks.
Limit Alfred Morris’ Rushing Yards
Morris has been one of the most consistent backs in the NFL this season. He currently has run for 1,027 yards, the sixth most in the league, and is in the top 10 averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He’s not getting these yards one or two at a time. In addition to limiting Morris, this puts more pressure on the quarterback. If Griffin III plays this week, this means forcing him to run the ball more as he currently has run 86 times for 489 yards but no touchdowns.
If Griffin III tries to rely on his throwing, Atlanta has a good chance at sacking him. Griffin has been sacked 38 times so far this season, the fifth most in the league. This will help cut down on RGIII’s passing attack, which has been acceptable, but not much else. He’s completing about 60 percent of his throws with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 82.2.
Win the Possession Battle
Washington may have a losing record, but they’ve done a good job controlling the clock, possessing the ball more than 31 minutes every game. However, Washington has a nasty habit of turning the ball over as they currently are at negative-three for the season. The more time Atlanta has with the ball, the more they can run it down the Redskins throat and pick up their fourth win of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm EST.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.