Robert Griffin III: Why Redskins Sensation Will Struggle vs. Falcons
Ever since going No. 2 overall, RG III has done nothing but impress. The former Heisman winner ranks fourth in passer rating and has been a fantasy stud.
However, his massive production has come against some porous pass defenses (New Orleans, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay). That will change as the Redskins take on the Falcons—the eighth-best pass defense in the league.
Although the RG III hype train has been chugging along smoothly, let's take a look at why Washington's star attraction will struggle against Atlanta.
Atlanta's Talented Secondary
One of the reasons the Falcons have gotten off to a strong start has been their terrific pass defense.
With a pair of playmaking safeties, a four-time Pro Bowl corner and a former top-10 pick on the other side, there's a boatload of talent in Atlanta's secondary.
William Moore and company will need to be on top of their game Sunday, as Robert Griffin III's unique skill-set presents a tough matchup. Moore—a former second-round pick—is quietly one of the better safeties in the league and is a nice complement to running mate Thomas DeCoud.
Meanwhile, high-priced cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson are opportunistic players who can bait RG III into throws and force turnovers. Griffin III has thrown just one interception thus far, but Atlanta's defensive backs should change that.
There aren't many athletes who can match RG III's athleticism, but Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is one of them.
Taken 19th overall in 2010, the former Missouri star brings an intriguing package of size (6'2", 244 pounds) and speed (4.52) from the weak side.
Last year Weatherspoon emerged as a force, recording 115 tackles, four sacks and eight passes defended. The young star has continued to make big plays in 2012, racking up a pair of sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two passes defended.
The Falcons can employ the speedy linebacker as both a pass-coverage defender and a quarterback spy in order to keep RG III and his world-class scrambling ability in check.
Washington's Lackluster Receivers
Considering the "talent" at receiver, RG III's hot start is even more impressive. While some applauded how the Redskins re-stocked the position over the offseason, the results haven't exactly been tremendous.
Former Colt Pierre Garcon—who's supposed to be the team's No. 1 wideout—has caught just one pass since his sensational first week as he's been battling a foot injury. Santana Moss—the team's former No. 1 receiver—is averaging a paltry 9.7 yards per catch.
Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan have been solid, but those two don't strike fear into most defenses.
With Atlanta's versatile secondary, expect the Redskins receivers to have a tough time getting open Sunday, making it a long day for RG III.
Playing from a Huge Deficit
RG III has benefited from playing in close games, but Sunday's matchup could be a whole lot different than he's used to.
Matt Ryan has taken a huge step forward and leads the NFL with a gaudy 112.1 passer rating. His ascension has made people remember that Roddy White is still a No. 1 receiver, and you have to imagine that Julio Jones is due for a big performance.
If Atlanta's offense puts up a bunch of points early, it'll force the Redskins to abandon their second-ranked running game and put the game squarely on RG III's shoulders. Although there's no doubting his talent, that's a tough situation for a rookie to overcome.
Battle in the Trenches
In the ever-important battle in the trenches, the Redskins and RG III may be in for a long day at the office.
The Redskins have a potential Pro Bowler in left tackle Trent Williams, but unfortunately for RG III, Williams can't block four guys at a time.
Atlanta's defensive line has generated just seven of the team's 10 sacks, but that doesn't mean the group is longing for talent.
Thirteen-year pro John Abraham is still making his presence known, as the former first-rounder has three sacks and two forced fumbles through four games. Defensive tackles Peria Jerry, Vance Walker and Jonathan Babineaux all know how to get after the quarterback and should beat up on Washington's interior offensive line.
If Atlanta's defensive line is on, RG III may suffer the third loss of his young NFL career.