“We’ve got a long way to go.''
Those are the words of Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera, who is overseeing a team disappointed in its 1-2.
But they could have easily been uttered, too, by Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith, who is overseeing a team that's kind of happy about being 1-2.
Washington, considered by many a legit NFC contender after last year's 7-9 effort won the WFT the NFC East and a playoff berth, might be looking at the Falcons, and the 1 p.m. Sunday meeting at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as a way to "get well soon.''
But the Falcons have film access. They get to see how the Washington Football team has stumbled, and not just in Week 3 in a 43-21 thrashing at the hands of Buffalo. This WFT club, even with its new offensive talent and its celebrated young defensive talent, could easily be 0-3 but for a late Week 1 penalty that helped allow a 30-29 win over the Giants. ...
The same Giants team that Atlanta just defeated, at New York, 17-14.
So the Falcons are better than the Giants. And the Giants are almost as good as Washington. Therefore ...
Nah, that game doesn't really work. What works, at this point in the week, is homework. Falcons players are saying they are doing their research on the WFT and its vulnerabilities. WFT guys are of course doing the same.
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Washington entered the season planning to be led by new QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. but he sustained a hip injury in Week 1, so Taylor Heinicke - who happens to be an Atlanta native - is now the quarterback of record.
Can Heinicke be a game manager? Or something more? who wins between an Atlanta offensive line in flux and the defensive line boasting a quartet of four first-round picks?
“They got a really good front,'' coach Smith said. "Everybody knows Chase Young. (Daron) Payne is in there, and those guys are tough -- and (Montez) Sweat. They can make life hard for you.”
It so happens that like Heinicke, Sweat is an Atlanta-area product, as is WFT star running back running back Antonio Gibson.
But they are not stacking up the expected numbers ... just as at the same time the Falcons offense is waiting on Calvin Ridley and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts to start a stat explosion.
“Right now,'' said Gibson, "we’re not where we are supposed to be, far from it. But it’s a long season. We just got to go to work next week and fix the things we need to fix.”
In other words, Washington has ... "a long way to go.'' And so do the Falcons. Where both teams go in NFL Week 4 is, to Atlanta.
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