How does Washington’s defense match up with Atlanta?

After a very forgetful Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, it’s time to take our attention to Atlanta

Atlanta’s offense has been subpar at best this season. They score an average of 16 points a game which is 29th in the league and has only put together 904 total yards of offense all season.

So you might think this is a good matchup for Washingon, and you would be right. It is an excellent matchup on paper. Because the defenses Atlanta went up against were either bottom in the league or middle of the pack, minus Philly. What should be looked at is third down because that has plagued Washington on defense and the same with Atlanta on offense.

Key stats to remember

Washington has allowed an abysmal 58.7% conversion rate which is 31st in the league. Yes, another team has been worse, Miami at 59.1%. Now Atlanta has only converted 33.3% of their third downs, that is 25th. Third down could really be the difference in this game. If Washington can make stops on third down they should be able to win.

Another stat that has been a glaring issue is drives that end in a score. Washington’s defense has allowed a score 59.4% of the time. That is last in the league by 4%. Atlanta’s offense has only scored on 25.7% of their drives, that is 28th. Stopping drives is a very obvious key to any game but it has been clear early that Washington needs to do the simple things to get a win here in week four.

Matt Ryan for the Falcons has only been sacked seven times this year so far. While that is the league average it would be nice to see Washington be able to get to the QB at least three times. It will be easier because of Ryan’s lack of mobility.

The Falcon’s biggest weapon is hard to pick. We all know Ridley is a homerun hitter, Pitts is a generational talent at TE and Patterson has emerged as a threat running and receiving. Ridley does lead the team in targets, receptions, and yards. Locking him down will be a huge test for Jackson and St-Juste. One last player that might shred Washington’s defense is Zaccheaus. While his numbers don’t stand out he has the potential to step up if Ridley isn’t able to get the receptions the Falcons need.

Don’t panic just yet!

I still believe this is a “get right” game for Washington’s defense. In the first three weeks, they got beat by two of the best young QBs and Jones who has a winning record in his career against Washington. We will need to see better play from the linebackers and if the secondary can cause a coverage sack that would boost the confidence for the big guys up front. Pressure and stops on third down are crucial.

It is not yet time to panic about this defense but if they allow another 400-yard day on defense this week then it might be.

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