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We ask the burning questions of Kevin Ewoldt, head writer at Hogs Haven.
Dave Choate: I have my own theories for attacking Robert Griffin III, but you know his particular blend of strengths and weaknesses much better than I do. If you were in Mike Nolan's shoes, how would you stop him?
Kevin Ewoldt: Man, that's a tough one. The Redskins have multiple WRs with YAC ability (Garcon, Josh Morgan, Aldrick Robinson), so you have to cover them...and that allows RGIII to rush with ease (18th most rushing yards in NFL). The Redskins are currently the #1 offense in the NFL rushing, and I couldn't help but notice ATL has 28th worst rushing defense. Trap game!! Kidding. Maybe. When the Redskins upset the Saints, it was lots of quick passes that went for huge gains. Shanahan has unveiled a new wrinkle of the playbook each week. I think the only game plan vs RGIII is simple...Bounty Gate him. (The Rams tried that by the way. Very dirty game).
Dave: Besides Trent Williams, how does the line look? The Falcons like to attack from all over the field, so I'm curious where the weak points are.
Kevin: Eh...OLine is good not great. Collectively they're doing OK but individually besides Trent they're weak. Zone blocking scheme to the rescue! RGIII has been pressured...A LOT...but still only has 1 INT all year. I really have no answers on how to stop him. ATL will get their licks on RGIII...gotta make em hurt. Redskins have solid WRs, a top 5 RB, and a smart QB....pick your poison.
Dave: How much is the pass rush missing Brian Orakpo? Is it still capable of taking advantage of the Falcons' weaknesses on the right side of the line?
Kevin: It's noticeable. Rob Jackson is simply nowhere near the pass rusher Rak is, but he's better in coverage and rush defense as one of our Editors nicely broke down with All-22 film. Ryan Kerrigan has stepped up his game and is getting good pressure. Matt Ryan will certainly have plays where he has all day and that's going to be U-G-L-Y with the state of our secondary. The Redskins dismissed both of their starting safeties last year with the cap penalty and had $0 left to bring in a decent one. Madieu Williams is a massive liability. Surely, Falcons fans will be enjoying a DHall down moment at least twice on Sunday.
Dave: How's your defense on the ground? The Falcons will try to maintain a balanced attack even if your secondary struggles, but will Michael Turner have a tough time?
Kevin: The Redskins have the 10th best rushing defense, but Turner should have a good day. Losing Adam Carriker was also a big blow. Roddy White and Julio Jones demand so much attention, especially given the safeties over the top are sub-par, so things should open up for Turner who KILLED the Skins the last time we met in 2009.
Dave: Score prediction, if you please, and who you expect to win the battle of young quarterbacks.
Kevin: Falcons 31, Redskins 24. Given how bad the Redskins secondary is and the fact the Redskins are 4-13 their last 17 home games (Shanahan era) is flat out EMBARRASSING. Matt Ryan has a big day. I think RGIII comes down to Earth a bit this week.