ATLANTA (WNN) — Arthur Smith is trying to channel his inner Ted Lasso.
Following his first win as the head coach of the NFL, Smith wants to bring some much-needed good vibes to the Atlanta Falcons franchise, which has endured a lot of heartache over the years, not unlike the fictional English football team from the TV show.
For that matter, the Washington football team could use some of Lasso’s positives.
The Falcons (1-2) host Washington (1-2) on Sunday in a matchup of teams that are lucky enough to be in the same league as the miserable New York Giants.
The Giants registered the only win for both teams without a win.
At Smith’s midweek news conference, a hand-written “Believe” sign was taped to the wall. When leaving the room, Smith tapped the sign Twice, as Jason Sudeikis’ character does on “Ted Lasso” to inspire his underdog team.
At least Smith has something to make this week.
After a two-way defeat, the Falcons won an ugly 17–14 over the giants. Youngho Koo won it with a 40-yard field goal when time ran out.
“It’s important, because you don’t want to come on Monday” trying to rationalize the loss, Smith said. “At least you have something to break down and say, ‘Hey, look, here’s what happens when we play together and we’re able to finish the game.’ Clearly, we have a ton of work to do… but I think it’s refreshing, and you want to pile it on because the speed is real.
Washington coming off an ugly 43-21 shock For the Buffalo Bills, that broke a defense that was considered a strength to coach Ron Rivera’s team.
The Bills pulled the game out of reach to start the second half with a 93-yard, 17-play touchdown drive, eating up more than half of the third quarter.
Rivera said the game will determine “whether we are resilient, whether or not we can put things behind us, whether we can learn from what happened in the past and use it going forward.”
“This is an opportunity for us to take a step forward,” he said. “It’s going to be a very competitive game. Both teams are in the same position.”
Beyond the Ted Lasso motivational strategy, some things to watch for when the Falcons face the Washington football team at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
Washington’s Taylor Heinicke will certainly hear some cheers on Sunday, even if he’s the visiting quarterback.
Henki is a native of suburban Atlanta and will have a lot of supporters in the stands.
“I am a big part of who I am today and you know why I am here,” he said. “It would be really nice to go out there, hopefully put on a good show, get a win. It would be nice to win in front of those guys.”
When asked what kind of quarterback he was at Collins Hill High School, Henicky quipped, “Small, weak-handed, slow. I had a bunch of good receivers, so they pushed me to look good.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan still seems to have a sense of Smith’s offense, especially when it comes to pushing the ball down the field.
Ryan completes about 71 percent of his throws, but he averages only 235.7 yards per game through the air. Over the past decade, he averaged 287 yards.
“Even when you have a lot of people, every team is different. Your identity and who you become are different. It takes some time to resolve this,” Ryan said.
“I think we are moving towards what we wanted to be. We are not there, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us to get there, but we are working in that direction.”
Cordrell Patterson garnered little attention when he signed a one-year contract with the Falcons in the off-season.
He has quickly become the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon, with the ability to take multiple positions. He has 13 catches for 153 yards, runs 85 yards on 21 carries, and has a 23-yard average on four kickoff returns.
“He’s made a huge impact for us,” Ryan said. “We’ve asked him to do a lot of things.”
Washington’s defense, which finished second in the NFL last season and came with high expectations, has struggled in the first three games. It was lit up to 481 yards by the Bills.
A major concern is the lack of a dynamic pass crowd, even with a defensive line full of first-round challenges.
WNN’s reigning defensive rookie of the year Chase Young has yet to get a sack, with Washington relying on him and Montez Sweat to build more pressure and take the lead from the secondary, which has been largely exploited so far Is.
Coach Ron Rivera wants his young Edge Rushers to stay on course and rely on what they do best.
“One of the things we talked about as a team is that when things get tough, you have to go back to your core principles,” Rivera said. “The things they do best are using their speed and strength and their quickness to do more than try and do something cute or something like that.”
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry.
WNN Sports Writer Stephen Whynow in Washington contributed to this report.
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