Each Tuesday, from now until the end of time (or until the end of the regular season, whichever comes first), I'll examine one stat from the Washington Redskins' most recent game. This is different from my Friday post for two main reasons: first, this series will focus on something relevant to the whole team while Friday's will typically focus on one area of the game or even a single player; second, this series will always be retroactive, looking back at the previous week's game, whereas the Friday post is much looser in construct and could be about that game or the season as a whole.
Anyway, here goes.
The primary pass-rushers for the Washington Redskins in 2014 were Ryan Kerrigan (13.5 sacks), Jason Hatcher (5.5) and Brian Orakpo (0.5, but he was a proven threat who commanded attention). Orakpo's time in Washington came to an end after last season, and new general manager Scot McCloughan immediately overhauled much of the defense. Kerrigan, Hatcher and Trent Murphy all survived the upheaval — as did Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley and a handful of role players along the front seven — but the new head honcho drafted pass-rusher Preston Smith and signed Junior Galette, Stephen Paea, Terrance Knighton and Ricky Jean Francois to help bolster what has recently been an anemic pass rush.
Even with Kerrigan and Galette on the bench and Knighton, Paea and Hatcher all playing fewer than 10 snaps, the Redskins managed five sacks against a Cleveland Browns offensive line that is expected to be among the league's best this year.
A few caveats worth mentioning:
- The Browns' stud left tackle, Joe Thomas, didn't suit up for the game.
- The Redskins' first sack came on the final play of the first half, meaning four of the five came in the second half when most key players were already out of the game.
- Two sacks came on one drive against third-string quarterback Connor Shaw (in a span of three plays) and two came against fourth-string quarterback Thad Lewis (on back-to-back plays, both by Houston Bates, on Cleveland's final possession).
Still, five sacks is a fine start. For what it's worth (quite little, really), Bates led the team with two sacks, while Preston Smith, Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith and Jackson Jeffcoat each had one. Bates and Cromartie-Smith are both longshots to make the roster, and Jeffcoat is on the bubble, but each helped their chances by filling the stat sheet against Cleveland. If nothing else, each player at least added a play to his highlight reel to show to other teams if he can't catch on with Washington this year.