There are a surprising number of former Washington players and coaches who currently prowl the Georgia Dome, and you can bet all of them will be hoping for a win over their former team tomorrow.
Kyle Shanahan, Raheem Morris, quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, running backs coach Bobby Turner, line coach Chris Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, Chris Chester, and Nick Williams all spent time with the Redskins over the last few seasons, and all of them wound up in Atlanta this offseason. While the Falcons didn't elect to import any former Redskins on defense for reasons that are probably pretty obvious if you watched the Washington defense from 2010-2013, they did bring in a ton of offensive coaches and players with ties to the organization.
The familiarity helps to explain how so many of these players wound up in Atlanta. Shanahan knew Turner, LaFleur and Morgan well from his days in Washington, and every one of them has done nice work with their position groups thus far. Shanahan was also very familiar with Chester, one of the team's starting guards for years, and the injury-prone but intriguing Leonard Hankerson, who served as the team's #2 when he was healthy. Nick Williams must have made an impression during the 2013 season, because Shanahan also imported him, and he's served as the team's #4 wide receiver thus far in 2015.
We tended to bust on the Mike Smith Falcons for bringing in a ton of Jaguars, and it was reasonable to be skeptical of the impact all these Washington players and coaches would have. Thus far, though, not one of them looks like a poor acquisition, which is pretty remarkable. Hopefully the team plans to give Dan Snyder a fruit basket.
On Sunday, look for Shanahan's scheme, Chester's blocking, and Hankerson's performance in the passing game to be crucial to the outcome. Let's hope all of these guys walk out of the Georgia Dome enjoying a 5-0 record and a big win over their former t eam.