Ryan Kerrigan and Chase Young help headline one of the NFL’s up and coming defensive lines in Washington. Not only does Ron Rivera’s defensive line have talent but they’ve got potential. Just look at Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young as pass rushers combined with great defensive tackles like Johnathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis.
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This defensive line can get pressure from the outside, but perhaps more importantly Washington has big sack guys like Johnathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis bringing pressure from the inside. If a defense is able to get to the quarterback with its defensive tackles, defensive ends, and linebackers, which is something that Washington is capable of doing, they’re going to be scary.
This offseason, Ron Rivera brought in Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator in Washington. Del Rio, a former NFL linebacker, has had a lot of success as a coach and defensive coordinator in the NFL. Although making Washington into a lockdown defense is unlikely, Del Rio has the talent on the roster to do it.
But let’s get back to their defensive line. Why do I think this defense can be among the league’s most destructive? For starters, Del Rio is implementing a new scheme that will really help Washington’s defensive playmakers up front. Del Rio is implementing a 4-3 base scheme compared to the 3-4 base scheme that was Washington’s staple last season. In a 3-4 scheme, guys like Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan would be dropping into coverage a lot more than Washington fans would be happy with.
Both of those guys are pass rushers, thus putting them in coverage is not something that plays to their strong suits. Therefore, making Kerrigan and Sweat into edge rushers plays to their strengths, meaning that Washington’s sack numbers and pressure rates should see an increase next season.
This is huge for Ryan Kerrigan, who’s capable of big sack seasons. Just because he registered the lowest amount of sacks of his career last year, that doesn’t mean that he’s completely lost it. In fact, Del Rio’s new scheme means that a rebound year for Kerrigan is almost guaranteed.
Plus, Del Rio’s new scheme is good for Washington’s run defense moving forward. Last year, Washington’s defense ranked 31st against the run, but putting more bodies at the line of scrimmage will only help Washington stop the ground game. Overall, stopping the run and getting more bodies to the quarterback at a higher rate is something that Jack Del Rio’s defense can certainly improve.
With all the talent on the defensive line, expect big things from Washington’s defensive front. Washington tallied up over 45 sacks last year, and with all the young playmakers there, expect those numbers to go up in the future as those young players get more experience under their belts. Now there are some question marks in Washington’s secondary that could hold this defense back, but with a pass rush as good as any in the league, expect more turnovers to happen as Washington will be able to pressure opposing quarterbacks into bad decisions. I know Washington fans have high hopes for this defense and they’ve got reason to be pumped. Yet, at the end of the day potential needs to turn into performance, and Washington may have found the best head coach and defensive coordinator duo to get that accomplished.