Here are five things to mull over before today’s 1 p.m. kickoff between the Falcons (4-0) and the Washington Redskins (2-2) at Georgia Dome:
- Has Shanahan moved on? Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur coached in the same capacity with Washington from 2010-13 under Shanahan’s father, Mike. They had a bumpy ride with quarterback controversies surrounding Donovan McNabb and then Robert Griffin III. They both may want to take a blow torch to Washington’s defense.
- Who’s getting the ball? It’s a wonderful problem to have. But the Falcons may not have enough footballs. With running back Tevin Coleman coming back, Shanahan must figure out a way to split the carries with Devonta Freeman, who likes to get into a rhythm. Also, we’ll need to watch and see if Roddy White gets any more targets. Julio Jones was downgraded to questionable on Friday. We’ll be at the stadium early to get an update. The inactives come out 90 minutes before kickoff, which is plenty of time to pull him from your fantasy lineup if he’s out. (With the Saints game on Thursday and the Washington secondary depleted, it may not be a bad move to sit him.)
- Allen to start at free safety. Ricardo Allen, who had his left calf heavily taped in practice on Friday will return to the starting lineup after missing one game with a knee injury. Rookie Robensen Therezie, who made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent from Auburn, started and played well last week against the Texans.
- Washington’s top receivers are out. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) both were declared out of the game by Redskins coach Jay Gruden. Pierre Garcon will serve as the top receiver for quarterback Kirk Cousins. He’s tied with Reed for the team lead in catches with 24. Reed has been Cousins’ security blanket.
- Riggs to be honored. Former running back Gerald Riggs, who was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor in 2013, will be honored during the game. The Falcons are toasting one of their former players during their 50th anniversary season. Riggs was selected by the Falcons as the ninth overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft out of Arizona State. He was a three-time Pro Bowler in his seven seasons in Atlanta and finished his Falcons career as the franchise’s all-time rushing leader with 6,631 rushing yards. Riggs tallied 48 career touchdowns, which puts him second in team history in terms of rushing touchdowns and fifth in overall touchdowns. Riggs’ name litters the Falcons record books as he was one of the most prolific rushers of his time. “Gerald Riggs is without question one of the greatest players in the history of our franchise,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. “He was one of the finest players of his time and left an indelible mark on this club as our all-time leading rusher.”
How did the Falcons get to 4-0?
Here’s a look back at the game stories, news and notes from their victories over the Texans (48-21), Cowboys (39-28), Giants (24-20) and Eagles (26-24).
TEXANS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 48, Texans 21
COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 39, Cowboys 28
GIANTS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 24, Giants 20
EAGLES GAME COVERAGE — FALCONS 26, EAGLES 24