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Five Falcons Who Need To Step Up Against The Redskins

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Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

With a quarter of the season in the books, we've seen four impressive wins from the Falcons. However, on an individual basis there have been plenty of ups and downs. Justin Blalock looked much better against Carolina, while Tyson Clabo struggled mightily.

The Redskins hold a .500 in 2012. They've dealt with several key injuries through four weeks, but they still pose a tough task for any opponent. We know Atlanta will already be relying on Matt Ryan, as he's stepped up in every game so far. Let's jump right into the discussion and take a look at a few Falcons, aside from the star quarterback, who need to step up in Week 5.

1) Tyson Clabo: The aforementioned issues against the Panthers were difficult to watch. Clabo rated as the third-worst lineman in pass protection last week, according to Pro Football Focus. He'll have his hands full again with Ryan Kerrigan this weekend. Kerrigan recorded 15 hurries, five hits and four sacks in his first four games, and given the fact that he lines up on the left side 73.9 percent of the time, Clabo will have to deal with him often. Ryan needs his right tackle to get back to his 2011 form.

2) Tony Gonzalez: Washington's pass defense is just awful, there's no way of putting it nicely. Tony G caught five passes for 51 yards last week, but he should she a nice boost in his stats on Sunday. Linebackers London Fletcher and Perry Riley are the likely candidates to cover Gonzalez, and while they've been relatively solid in pass coverage, the two have combined to allow five passing touchdowns so far. After yielding touchdowns to Jimmy Graham, Matthew Mulligan (Who? Exactly) and Jermaine Gresham, we can probably expect a score or two from No. 88.

Gonzalez also continues to perform poorly in run blocking. He's rated at a ridiculous -7.6 overall in this area by PFF, by far the worst on the team. After going back and watching some of the runs last week, Gonzalez didn't look that bad to me. He lets his man get away at times after engaging at the line, but there wasn't anything that really stood out to me.

3) John Abraham: The veteran defensive end continues to lead the way in pass rush for the Falcons. He leads the team with three sacks and is tied for first with seven hurries. Trent Williams and Tyler Polumbus anchor the ends of the front five for the Redskin O-line, and they are two very different matchups for Abe. Williams by far has been the team's best blocker in pass protection. He's allowed one sack and just three hurries all year. On the right side, Polumbus hasn't fared nearly as well. While has yet to give up a sacks, he's yielded 10 hurries and three hits, all in the pass three games.

If Abe continues lining up where's he used to, he'll be facing off against Williams. Keep an eye out to see if Mike Nolan tries to take advantage of the weaker of the two tackles by moving Abraham. The Falcons need to generate plenty of pass rush to keep the rookie quarterback uncomfortable.

4) Thomas DeCoud/William Moore: Basically these two are on here due to the fact that Pierre Garcon is healthier now. Garcon is a deep threat at all times, as we saw him take a 19-yard pass from RG3 and turn it into an 88-yard touchdown in Week 1. Leonard Hankerson also has the ability to stretch the field, so these two Falcons will need to be aware of the deep ball. The Redskins aren't taking shots down field often, as RG3 only has eight targets that have been 20+ yards downfield. However, when they do take their chances, they can be deadly.