Last season, Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith combined for 21 sacks - 13 by Kerrigan and 8 from Smith. As a team, the Redskins had 42 sacks on the season.
The 2018 offseason saw the Skins focus heavily on the defensive front. Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne was selected at number 13 overall. The Redskins went back to the defensive tackle pool again in the fifth round, getting a steal in Virginia Tech defender Tim Settle (a prospect many had projected in the 2nd or 3rd round). Getting a healthy Jonathan Allen back this season will further bolster a unit that saw significant improvement from second year players Matt Ioannidis and Anthony Lanier last year.
With the improvement the Redskins have made up front over the last two offseasons, some pressure should be taken off the edge rushers to carry the majority of the weight when it comes to putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Allen, Ioannidis, Lanier, Payne and Settle all have pass-rush ability from the inside. In the past, the outside pass rush would often get to the quarterback, forcing him to step up in a pretty clean pocket due to the lack of a solid interior push. Now, we have young, capable guys up front who can not only collapse the pocket with strength, but who can also beat one-on-one interior match-ups with quickness and speed.
Due to this new and improved dynamic up front, less pressure should be put on the edge rushers to have to do it all in the pass-rush game. One group should be able to successfully feed off the other. In other words, if we get a great interior rush, that could force the quarterback to vacate the pocket, where he would be a sitting duck for our edge defenders. Conversely, if we get quick pressure off the edge, we could force the quarterback to step up into the waiting arms of our interior defensive linemen.
I feel, as a team, we will eclipse the 42 total sacks we saw last season. However, I feel that Kerrigan and Smith will be just under the combined sack total we saw them produce in 2017.
Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith projected 2018 sack totals:
Kerrigan - 9 sacks
Smith - 11 sacks