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The Redskins were among the best in the NFL in generating sacks in 2018 - can they be even better in 2019?

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NFL: DEC 16 Redskins at Jaguars Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pressuring the passer

This is Jay Gruden answering a question in a press conference, talking initially about Montez Sweat rushing the passer:

“Yeah, speed, size, length; we’ve already talked about that. Now we’re just trying to hone in on – if [we’re] playing base defense, one of those guys (outside linebackers) sometimes has got to drop into coverage – so we’re working on his drops and his aiming points and all that. But from a pass-rush standpoint, obviously he will be a problem for a lot of people; even if he doesn’t get home, you’ll feel his presence because he’s so long and he’s always around the quarterback – he can make the quarterback step up into [Daron] Payne and [Jonathan] Allen, hopefully [Matt] Ioannidis and those other guys. So [we have] two great edge setters. Ryan Anderson is doing a much better job in camp; [Marcus] Smith [II] is doing a better job, talked about Cassanova McKinzy – he’s doing a good job too. I’ve got a good group of edge guys.”

Literally, I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard a coach or teammate mention Marcus Smith. He seems to be the most invisible guy on the Redskins roster from 2018.

Click here to read “Did Marcus Smith simply fly under everyone’s radar?”

Last year (2018) the Redskins defense was 7th in the league with 46 sacks. The #1 ranking went to Kansas City and Pittsburgh who each had 52 total sacks.

The Redskins return their entire defensive line unit, the oldest of whom is Matt Ioannidis, at 25 years old. Iron Man Ryan Kerrigan will return at LOLB, and many people see the maturation of Ryan Anderson and the drafting of Montez Sweat as offering a probable upgrade to Preston Smith, who left in free agency.

Add to that the addition of Rob Ryan as the linebacker coach, and the influence he is likely to have on the use of attacking blitzes in 2019, and the Redskins could be set up to field a premier defense with regard to rushing the passer. Consider this from a recent article in The Athletic:

Linebackers coach Rob Ryan is letting his guys be more aggressive by sending them on stunts, blitzes, disguising coverages and any other creative ways he can create havoc with this group.

Related: Will the Redskins defense have a ‘new look’ with Rob Ryan coaching the linebackers?

Through spring practices and the first two days of camp, Bostic has broken up several passes, especially in underneath routes. When the quarterbacks completed their passes, in a live period, Bostic would’ve had several big hits. He had one that caused a drop out of Jordan Reed on the first day. Ryan has sent Bostic on linebacker blitzes since the day he was brought in.

and this excerpt from an interview The Athletic did with safety Montae Nicholson:

Something fans can look forward to seeing more of from Nicholson as the games begin is him being sent closer to the line of scrimmage and on blitzes. It was something the team did a couple of times during spring practices and also had the third-year safety do on the first day of training camp. Nicholson said the coaching staff is “just calling them more.”

Projected defensive line and linebacker groups according to the most recent 53-man roster projection from The Athletic:

Defensive line (6): Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle, Caleb Brantley, JoJo Wicker

Outside linebacker (5): Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Ryan Anderson, Jordan Brailford, Cassanova McKinzy

Inside linebacker (4): Jon Bostic, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Cole Holcomb

Personally, I think JoJo Wicker is a long shot to make the team as the 6th DL. I could see Bonner beating him out; I could see the Redskins signing a player cut from another roster; also, I could see the team going into the season with just 5 defensive linemen on the regular roster.

Likewise, I could see the team going with just 4 OLBs if they wanted to carry an extra player at an offensive position (QB, TE, OL).

The ILB group looks like a lock, barring unforseen injury.


The Redskins defense got 46 sacks in 2018. How many will they get in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    less than 40
    (8 votes)
  • 26%
    (106 votes)
  • 71%
    50 or more
    (280 votes)
394 votes total Vote Now