Atlanta Falcons must put the game in Brandon Weeden’s hands


When the schedule was released in April, not many would have penned the Atlanta Falcons to start 3-0. To achieve what once seemed an impossible goal, they must go through the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T stadium. This isn’t the Dallas team that dominated its way to a 12-4 record last year, though.

With no Tony Romo, Dez Bryant or DeMarco Murray, the Falcons seemingly have an opening to steal an impressive road victory and depart the toughest stretch on the schedule intact. Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult to see anything but a Dallas victory, but this is far from the norm. For Dan Quinn’s team, winning the game is as simple as this—put the game in Brandon Weeden‘s hands.

The former Cleveland Brown was flawless in relief of Romo last week, going 7 for 7 for 73 yards and a touchdown. But the Eagles were a mess and put in one of the worst performances in recent franchise memory. The challenge of a rejuvenated Falcons team will be much tougher for the 31-year-old.

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Weeden has featured in 29 games in his career, and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 27-28. He’s thrown more picks than scores and averages almost an interception per game, and it’s worth noting he only started 21 of those games. Forcing him to get the ball out quick will be the key to success, and that’s when the mistakes will come.

So how do the Falcons put the game on his shoulders?

It starts by stopping the run. Last season, the Cowboys owned the league’s second-best rushing attack averaging 147.1 yards per game, largely down to the dominance of Murray. Through two games this season they average just 94.5, good for 20th. With Weeden under center, Dallas will turn to the run game as often as possible, and Atlanta must bottle it up right out of the gates.

The Falcons have done a good job of this so far this season, restricting the Eagles and Giants to a total of 160 yards, good for seventh-best in the league. Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden both have talent but don’t pose anywhere near the threat Murray once did in the backfield. The Cowboys do boast arguably the best offensive line in the league, so stuffing the running lanes will be no easy task.

It’s also important to get on the board early and take a lead. Pushing ahead will force the Cowboys to throw the football, and this is when more bodies can be committed to rushing the passer and disrupting receivers’ routes.

If the Cowboys are able to run the ball effectively on Sunday, or if the Falcons can’t move the ball on a talented defense, it will be a tough day. To win, Atlanta must put the game on Weeden’s shoulders.

Weeden vs. Matt Ryan? There’s only one winner.

Next: Ten things the Falcons must do to beat the Cowboys