Redskins vs. Falcons

It's hard to believe, but it's true: Washington hasn't started 2-0 since 1991, a year that ended with much celebration. Thing is, the last time Atlanta started 2-0 (in 1998), the Falcons, too, ended up in the Super Bowl. Here's what the Redskins must do to make sure they emerge victorious.

Players to watch, offensively: Center Larry Moore. With the 3-4 communication is vital, especially up the middle. That means Moore, who is respected by his teammates for his knowledge of the game.

Receiver Laveranues Coles. With the Falcons safeties banged up, look for Washington to attack the deep middle with Coles. He loves those intermediate crossing routes and, if Patrick Ramsey has time, those plays should work.

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey. He must know where the pressure is coming, a sometimes hard thing against the 3-4. The Falcons usually come off the edge, but that's not the only place and Ramsey must be constantly aware.

Players to watch, defensively: Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete. The third-year player will largely be responsible for covering tight end Alge Crumpler. He won't be the only one and likely will have help at times. But Ohalete is the primary player in charge of shutting him down. It won't be easy. Crumpler is big and fast. The Falcons use him on misdirection plays, rolling one way and throwing back another. That means Ohalete must play smart, staying with his reads and not flying up too fast, a problem of his a year ago but not in the opener.

Corner Champ Bailey likely will cover receiver Peerless Price most of the game. It should be a good battle. Price is the only deep threat and if QB Doug Johnson has time, he can beat Bailey. But Bailey lives for these matchups.

On the spot: Running back Trung Canidate. Clearly the coaches like Ladell Betts a lot, which is why he was in at the end of the Jets game. As everyone always says, it's not who starts, it's who finishes. If Canidate wants to hold onto the job, he must have a strong showing. And that means in blitz pickup, too. He missed a couple against the Jets. The back has a hard job against the 3-4.

Good matchup: Redskins WR Rod Gardner against CB Ty Williams. Gardner has the edge, but must do a better job this week of coming back for the ball on the turn-ins.

What the Redskins must do: Offensively, they must stay balanced. They're in a sold-out dome, facing a team with a quick defense that tees off on teams in obvious pass situations and they have a line still getting in synch in pass protection. The Redskins can line up and drive the Falcons back in the running game, especially with Betts. So do it. But when they pass, they should attack the middle.

Defensively, they have to pressure Doug Johnson. That means Bruce Smith will have to beat LT Bob Whitfield. If Johnson has time, he can hurt them. But under pressure Johnson will make costly mistakes. Just watch. The Redskins should be able to blitz more, figuring their corners can handle these wideouts in man coverage. That would help. Atlanta's guards aren't anything special and can be exploited.

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