At first glance, it looks like Jameis Winston should thrive against one of the worst defenses in the NFL (at the moment, at least). The Falcons are coming off a tough 41 – 17 loss in Pittsburgh. The defense simply had no answer against Pittsburgh’s high-flying offense. Atlanta was unable to cope with the running game, as LeVeon Bell’s replacement player James Conner ran all over them for 110 yards and two touchdowns, adding another four receptions for 75 yards.
Atlanta had no answer for Roethlisberger’s efficient passing game either. Big Ben passed for 250 yards and three touchdowns. The Falcons were not able to create a pass rush. Consequently, they did not record a sack in the game and only hit Roethlisberger four times. On 12 attempts, the Steelers converted 9 times on third down.
This loss puts the Falcons at an unbelievable record of 1-4 to start the season. Atlanta has allowed 36.3 points in the last four games.
To put it in a nutshell, things could look worse for Winston as he starts his first game coming back from his suspension. However, the Falcons will play with a chip on their shoulder at home against a division rival, and another loss this early in the season would basically put the post season out of reach for the Falcons.
It will be a very important game for Winston, as well. He needs to show the coaching staff what he is capable of doing and that he can lead this team in a prove-it season that will determine the future of his career. He can take the first step in a long and successful future in Tampa, and in the NFL, for that matter, with a good performance in Atlanta on Sunday.