GAME DAY CENTRAL: Falcons at Redskins, 1 p.m. Sunday

QB corner: Matt Ryan discusses the Redskins

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan can become the first signal-caller in franchise history to guide the team to a 5-0 record.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gets a pass off under pressure from Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gets a pass off under pressure from Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

He faces a Redskins defense that ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (89 per game). The secondary, which features former Falcon DeAngelo Hall, allows 326.5 yards passing per game, which ranks 31st in the league.

Here’s a brief Q&A involving Ryan and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.

Q: What jumps out at you about Washington’s defense?

A: London Fletcher is one of the better [middle] linebackers in the league. He’s a veteran guy. He’s really like playing a [defensive] coordinator out on the field.

Q: Is the secondary the weak link?

A: They’ve been playing with a lead. One of the things you have to take in consideration is the type of games they’ve been in. Their offense has jumped out in a couple of those games and gotten off to an early lead and forced people to throw the football quite a bit against them. I think that’s why sometimes statistics are a little skewed. They have some talented guys back there.

Q: How have they compensated for the losses of linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive Adam Carriker?

A: They’ve done a good job. [Ryan] Kerrigan, No. 91, has stepped in and done a really nice job. He’s a really good player. He’s a talented guy and very physical, has a high motor, very active. I think their scheme has allowed them to keep pressure in terms of the pass game. The pass rush has been very good. They’ve been very stout against the run, so they’ve done a good job.

The  X-factor: Robert Griffin III

Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III leads Washington on a drive that results in a game-winning field goal. (Getty Images)

Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III leads Washington on a drive that results in a game-winning field goal. (Getty Images)

Shortly after the NFL scouting combine, the Washington Redskins, determined to return to their glory days, made a mega-trade to land the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft.

They sent three first-round picks and a second-round pick to St. Louis to move up to select Robert Griffin III, the dynamic Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor and the X-factor against the Falcons.

The early returns suggest that it was a shrewd move by the Redskins’ front office.

Griffin completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns and threw no interceptions in guiding the Redskins to a victory over the New Orleans Saints in his NFL debut. He became the first player in NFL history to pass for 300-plus yards, throw two or more touchdowns and have no interceptions in his debut.

He was the first rookie to start at quarterback in Week 1 for the Redskins since Norm Snead in 1961.

Through four games Griffin’s passing numbers put him in elite company. With 1,070 yards passing, he joins Carolina’s Cam Newton (2011) and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill (2012) as the players to post 1,000 passing yards in the first four games of a rookie season. (In 2008, Matt Ryan passed for 669 yards in his first four games.)

Griffin has studied the Falcons.

“They are very opportunistic,” he said. “They create a lot of turnovers. They try to strip the ball. They have good ball skills in the secondary, and they play hard. It’s our job to make sure that we protect the ball, but also stay aggressive and try to score points.”

In addition to his passing, Griffin has rushed for 252 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns. Because he has superior speed, he presents a different problem than the Falcons faced against Newton last week.

“They are two different players,” Falcons defensive Ray Edwards said. “They are both are very fast and shifty. RGIII gets up on you a little bit quicker.

On the hot seat: The offensive line

After his team’s poor performance against Carolina on Sunday, Falcons coach Mike Smith did all he could to deflect the criticism from his offensive line.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is only able to get one foot in bounds with head coach Mike Smith looking on and was ruled out of bounds on a long catch late in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is only able to get one foot in bounds with head coach Mike Smith looking on and was ruled out of bounds on a long catch late in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

He pointed to receivers not breaking off routes or not knowing if they were the hot route to quarterback Matt Ryan holding onto the ball.

He duly noted that pass protection is a team project.

However, the offensive line should not be let off the hook that easily. They’ll be put to the test against a stout Washington front-seven led by outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and middle linebacker London Fletcher.

With the new offensive scheme, the Falcons aren’t asking the line to dominate and maul defenders in pass protection. The attack — with very few five- and seven-step passing drops by Ryan — is designed for them to hold up just long enough for Ryan to get in his rhythm passing mode.

When the Falcons want longer routes, they’ll have to use maximum protection, as they did on Roddy White’s 59-yard catch against Carolina.

“After you look at the tape, you are saying, ‘OK, how could we have helped our protection?’” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “Sure, we could have run the ball more, but you are trying to attack what you perceive as the weaknesses in the defense.”

Connections: DeAngelo Hall started his career with the Falcons

Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham helps knock the ball loose as Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton fumbles in the final minutes of the game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. The Panthers recovered the fumble but punted it away on fourth down allowing the Falcons to drive for the game winning field goal. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham helps knock the ball loose as Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton fumbles in the final minutes of the game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. The Panthers recovered the fumble but punted it away on fourth down allowing the Falcons to drive for the game winning field goal. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall, after being traded twice since 2007, has settled in with the Redskins.

He played with the Falcons from 2004-07 before being traded to the Oakland Raiders, and later to Washington.

“We’ve struggled,” said Hall, who has 36 career interceptions. “If you look at the stats, we’ve definitely struggled with consistency.”

Hall, who got into scuffle along the Falcons’ sidelines the last time these two teams played, seems to have matured.

“DeAngelo Hall is a Pro Bowl-caliber corner, and a guy we’ve played against a couple of times with two different teams in the Raiders and the Redskins,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We know he’s capable of making some plays.”

Other connections include:

  • Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie held that position with the Redskins (1994-98). He was also their passing-game coordinator (1999-2000) and interim head coach for three games in 2000.
  • Redskins defensive lineman Kedric Golston is from Tyrone and played at Georgia.
  • Redskins offensive lineman Maurice Hurt is from Milledgeville and played at Florida.
  • Redskins linebacker Perry Riley is from Stone Mountain and played at LSU.
  • Redskins cornerback Cedric Griffin played with Falcons left guard Justin Blalock at Texas.
  • Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams played with Falcons punt returner Dominique Franks at Oklahoma.
  • Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins played with Falcons tight end Michael Palmer at Clemson.

Stat corner: Rookie quarterbacks are playing sooner

Washington is one of several teams this season following a recent trend started by the Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens in 2008.

Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant makes a field goal in the final seconds of the game for a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant makes a field goal in the final seconds of the game for a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Traditionally, teams had elected not to start rookie quarterbacks. Most teams preferred that they served an apprenticeship before being sent out to the field.

But with the shifting economics and owners’ desires to see an immediate return on their investment, the rookie quarterbacks are being shoved onto the field with mixed results.

For the successes of Ryan and Flacco, there’s still Blaine Gabbert flailing away in Jacksonville, Mark Sanchez in New York and Sam Bradford in St. Louis, who in retrospect may have been rushed to the field too quickly.

Washington features rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who’s off to a fabulous start. He was in a class of five rookies — Griffin, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden — who opened the 2012 season as starters. That was the first time that many rookie starters opened a season at the key position since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

“Everybody is looking for that franchise quarterback,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “When you get a guy that you think is a franchise guy, you want to give him as much experience as quickly as you can.”

None of the five rookies have winning records.

“Everyone knows there are going to be some growing pains with it, but I think people are willing to take the risks if they get the opportunity to get some repetitions early in their careers,” Shanahan said.

 

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128 comments Add your comment

stauff

October 6th, 2012
6:35 am

Elvia is alive

October 6th, 2012
6:41 am

Elvis is alive

October 6th, 2012
6:43 am

Elvis is second….infield fly rule

lowdownjj

October 6th, 2012
6:49 am

“Me”angelo has a pro bowl mouth and a pro bowl bad attitude. Sure hope I see him get burnt a few times tomorrow. And I still think Smitty can take him

David

October 6th, 2012
8:12 am

Amen to that Lowdownjj

JSS

October 6th, 2012
9:33 am

Ask Jay Cutler about your wish list, letting that “Braves fans like hatred” soil your brain might bite you in the rear!

Post-It

October 6th, 2012
10:12 am

@JSS… Once again you fail to make sense.

Michael M.

October 6th, 2012
10:27 am

Braves just wasn’t good enough as a Team to even be in the playoffs…………………..

Now on to Football…………….Georgia over South Carolina
Falcons over the RedSkins

Esquire

October 6th, 2012
10:28 am

JSS

October 6th, 2012
9:33 am

Ask Jay Cutler about your wish list, letting that “Braves fans like hatred” soil your brain might bite you in the rear!
**************************************************
Riveting and powerful as always. Superior eloquence and intellectual grasp! How did you end up not being a great orator like MLK Jr….?

SeenThisBFalcon

October 6th, 2012
10:31 am

falcons win 34-13!!!!

Michael M.

October 6th, 2012
10:36 am

Call Obuma and tell em he should show up at the stadium to congratulate the Falcons after they destroy the skins…………… cause they not the Nationals…………..hehehehe

Esquire

October 6th, 2012
10:58 am

Mikey

October 6th, 2012
11:16 am

RGIII is getting his rookie reps and is amazing us. I’m hoping that magic defense of the Falcons shows up and ruins his day. He is a load though so it won’t be easy. This is another top QB matchup like the Peyton Manning show. I’m anxious to see how it plays out. Of course this is another time when it is great to have one of the bes offenses in the NFL ourself. Should be another great game. I’d sure like to see our Falcons win 5 in a row for the first time in history! GO FALCONS! YOU ARE RISING UP!

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Falcons Rule.

October 6th, 2012
12:47 pm

Falcons in a laugher 55-3. RGIII will be knocked out by halftime. This is the magical season that we’ve all been waiting for….undefeated baby and on the way to the superbowl. Mattie Ice for MVP…yes folks….Mattie Ice is ELITE.

Invisible Man

October 6th, 2012
4:36 pm

Don’t know bout elite but extremely good. What happen to all the trolls this season ? Guess those Falcons shut them up. Keep their big mouths shut Falcons and keep the winning streak going !

True Falcon Fan

October 6th, 2012
8:24 pm

Because he is a “ZERO” and always will be!!!!

Go Falcons —- We “WIN” this Sunday FOLKS foresure!

Yo ZERO — U – know where that pawn shop is in Canton, Ga “RIGHT” —- go takes care of your problem they gots da solution — S&W is what i’m talkin’ about U fool………………

True Falcon Fan

October 6th, 2012
8:27 pm

JSS
October 6th, 2012
9:33 am —— Here ya answer “FOOL”!

True Falcon Fan
October 6th, 2012
8:24 pm

Because he is a “ZERO” and always will be!!!!

Go Falcons —- We “WIN” this Sunday FOLKS foresure!

Yo ZERO — U – know where that pawn shop is in Canton, Ga “RIGHT” —- go takes care of your problem they gots da solution — S&W is what i’m talkin’ about U fool………………

Falcons all day

October 6th, 2012
10:31 pm

Why was Matt Ryan not on the top 100 players list?????

People are looking stupid now. SMH

Draggin' Fly

October 6th, 2012
11:45 pm

Up to the Falcons to salvage what’s been a dismal weekend for local fans. Hope they’re up to it.

D man

October 6th, 2012
11:53 pm

After the Braves and Dawgs this weekend, please get us a win Falcons…WE NEED IT BAD!!!

LOL at the Aints

October 7th, 2012
12:41 am

Enter your comments here

LOL at the Aints

October 7th, 2012
12:42 am

JSS,, thanks for the insight bud,, man you really know your stuff<< LOL

LOL at the Aints

October 7th, 2012
12:44 am

Even if the Falcons get their A@@ handed to them JSS is still a A$$ Hole, LOL

LOL at the Aints

October 7th, 2012
12:45 am

Hows that for some football talk for ya, LOL

JSS

October 7th, 2012
7:58 am

I hope Matt Ryan wins. He’s my hero.

Esquire

October 7th, 2012
8:18 am

We got rain this morning at FedEx Field and the temps are cool………..52° for game time. Could be a slippery field on that 419 Tifway Bermuda Grass especially if they let it grow a little.

backatcha

October 7th, 2012
8:18 am

This has definitely been a tough week for our teams! When it rains…..you know the rest! The Falcons might have their toughest game yet, and we have to keep RG3 off the field! Also, we must sustain blocks, CATCH passes, and establish a bit of a running game. Hopefully, we don’t give them the ball in the last two minutes needing only one score to win the game as Tampa did last week. RG3 destroyed their defense (Tampa should have won the game!) They might not win pretty, but a win is a win! I will take it! Stay focused!!!

Roger

October 7th, 2012
8:57 am

After the Braves, Jackets, Dawgs past few days, the state of georgia needs a big win badly or else DUIs and public drunk will show a sharp increase. Lets Go Falcons!!

Just Sayin

October 7th, 2012
9:10 am

Rain, Rain, Rain. Feels like playoff weather in D.C. & we know how the playoffs have gone.

Just sayin…..

keepin it real

October 7th, 2012
9:13 am

Matt Ryan will be the greatest player in franchise history when he retires. Period. Enjoy this people. You’re watching another Joe Montana.

Just Sayin

October 7th, 2012
9:19 am

Last franchise qb won his 1st playoff game at age 22.

Just sayin…..

keepin it real

October 7th, 2012
9:33 am

He (Matt Ryan) is the only player in franchise history to be named Offensive Player of the Month multiple times. More will come.

Last franchise qb still giftwraps picks and fumbles like Xmas presents. Used to be one of my favorites, must admit, but still, even today, inconsistent and sporadic.
His hype and talent greatly overshadowed his actual reliability as a franchise qb.

Just keepin it real . . .

Just Sayin

October 7th, 2012
9:39 am

@keepin it real

Who owns the franchise record for most regular season wins without a playoff win?

Just Sayin

October 7th, 2012
9:41 am

Baltimore has won 5 playoff games since 2008.

Just sayin…..

Just Sayin

October 7th, 2012
9:48 am

Weather forecast says low 50s, rainy & windy.

JSS

October 7th, 2012
9:59 am

(FAKE) JSS
October 7th, 2012
7:58 am
“I hope Matt Ryan wins. He’s my hero.”

Good morning phonies, hope you have your usual days of horror…

Matty Ice

October 7th, 2012
10:04 am

Don’t worry Falcon Fans, after I hit the field and connect to Julio and Roddy twice each for four touchdown throws and zip one in the end zone to Tony in the endzone that will be 35 points right there. Then I will just ding and dunk and cruise along and let Michael and Quizz pound and pound and ding and dunk for a couple more scores and make it 42 to whatever the defense lets them wind up with.
I am positve they can’t score more than 32 points against our defense. I will win this one easily and shut the troll nation up for good with this statement game here in just a little while. Just keep the faith !

JSS

October 7th, 2012
10:04 am

Before you fall into your normal discourse of name-calling, user-name stealing, suicide advocation, geography mutilation, fantasy scenario creation, and false idol worship, I hope that each and everyone of you take account of your personal web behavior in the light of Friday’s travesty. You can do better…

Matty Ice

October 7th, 2012
10:07 am

and oh yes, after I win this one , I am going to go over to the housing project and straighten out that know it all JSS with the rest of his goonies too that sit around all the time on that cheap desktop they pitched in together and bought second -hand from the Willy box local salvation army !

Matty Ice

October 7th, 2012
10:09 am

the nerve of that goonie to call me Howdy cause he saw my picture with me wearing a Bravs hat !

Matty Ice

October 7th, 2012
10:10 am

Just wait til I get on that football field, I will show you why they call me Ice !

JSS

October 7th, 2012
10:21 am

Poor Post-it, “hope” equals a “wish.” Go look at Jay Cutler’s lifetime interceptions and who is the all-time leader in picking him off… Hall is a lightning rod for you folks. He had the audacity to tell the truth about Bobby Petrino… So he’s a braggart (in the fantasy world of AJC Blogs and hurt Falcons fans), but he’s never been a terrible DB like Bruce Pickens or a Charles Dimry… Go ahead and throw his way without proper understanding of the person you’re throwing towards…

SeenThisBFalcon

October 7th, 2012
10:21 am

FALCONS HAVE NEVER BEEN 5-0 UNTIL TODAY…..RG3 WILL TURN THE BALL OVER IN THE RAINY WEATHER..FALCONS IN A BLOWOUT 34-13!!!

JSS

October 7th, 2012
10:28 am

P.S. Post-It…
I know you were being your normal agitating pontificator, but I just felt like to expressing the thought…

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Michael M.

October 7th, 2012
10:32 am

You folks just wont do………………………..lmao …………………………………………………..

Falcons 38 Redskins 24

explosive blowout

October 7th, 2012
10:33 am

…….. Five and O Falcons

phil

October 7th, 2012
10:37 am

Falcons Rule.
October 6th, 2012
12:47 pm

Falcons in a laugher 55-3. RGIII will be knocked out by halftime. This is the magical season that we’ve all been waiting for….undefeated baby and on the way to the superbowl. Mattie Ice for MVP…yes folks….Mattie Ice is ELITE.

*********
surely this is a joke. We are not gonna win this game. It will be close, I hope, but give it up now. We couldn’t stop Scam (he stopped himself) and we won’t be stopping this latest running QB. Our defense is vastly overrated, can’t rush the passer, you name it.

Offensively, the line has been exposed, it’s raining, Ryan is overconfident, julio is slacking off…..

Braves and dawgs were predictably slaughtered…..all the signs we know so well are there.

Give up now.