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Redskins Defensive Improvements: Ryan Kerrigan

2013 Could be a break out year for the "Kerr" half of the "Kerrakpo" pass rushing duo.

Ryan Kerrigan 2012 Stats: 54 Total Tackles, 8.5 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 Interception (Returned for TD)

I’ll admit, when Ryan Kerrigan was drafted, I was not super-pleased. I had never heard of him, but once I started looking up highlights, I instantly realized that we had picked up a highly productive player. Through Ryan Kerrigan’s second season with the Redskins, he has definitely proven to be productive. However, at times last year, his play left me (and I’m sure many others) yearning for just a little more.

Last year was an interesting season for young Ryan Kerrigan. I think going into the season, we were all expecting a breakout year from both him and Rak (some fantastic organization even created “Kerrakpo” T-shirts). In the opener against the Saints, it certainly looked like this was going to be the case. We were creating pressure from both the left and right, and the Saints were struggling with whom of our pass rushers to attempt to double. Unfortunately, we saw very little of this duo after that game, as Orakpo went down for the year the next game. This was very disappointing, and would end up being an injury that would cost Orakpo himself, the team, and his pass-rushing partner Kerrigan. It didn’t help that we also lost Adam Carriker, someone responsible for occupying blockers so that Kerrigan wouldn’t, in the same game. Throughout the rest of the 2012 season, Kerrigan, along with the rest of the defense, would be plagued with inconsistency. It seemed like he would be able to overcome the loss of Orakpo, as he had 3.5 sacks in the first four games. However, he would only record 5 more sacks in the remaining 12. There were eight games this year that he didn’t record a sack, including two different 3-game stretches without a sack, and oftentimes struggled with getting off his blocker, sometimes even if it was a single lineman. Although he ended the year with the same sack total as his rookie campaign, I think we can all agree that prior to the season starting we were hoping for more.

Although the lack of statistical improvement is disappointing, it is understandable. The whole defense took a step back in 2012, and after Orakpo went down, Kerrigan became the focal point of opposing offenses. He didn’t exactly have much help in QB pressuring department from the rest of the defense, as our next most effective pass rusher was Rob Jackson with 4.5. It did seem that Jim Haslett elected to drop Kerrigan back into coverage more this past season. Hopefully, this upcoming season, in which Orakpo will be back and better than ever, will lead to a breakout campaign for Kerrigan.

Key Improvement in 2013:

As stated earlier, 2013 should be a breakout year for Kerrigan. With the return of Orakpo, opposing offensive coordinators will have to pick which of our two rush linebackers to focus on, and either (or hopefully both) will benefit from the attention that the other draws. I think that Kerrigan should get into double digit sacks this year (Hoping for 12!) while continuing to improve in coverage. I think this will be an extremely strong year for Kerrigan. After battling through constant double teams last year, I think that he has learned a lot about himself as a pass rusher, and will be able to apply these lessons on opposing QB’s with regularity next season.