Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 26, 29 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Why the Redskins need to sign and draft more pass rushers
You don’t have to dip too far into advanced stats to figure out why the Broncos were able to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl. Brady dropped back to pass 60 times and he was hit on 20 of those dropbacks. In sheer numbers that’s the most a quarterback has been hit in any game, regular season or playoffs, since 2006.
Mostly as a result of the pressure, Brady completed fewer than half of his passes (27 of 56), mustering just 5.5 yards per attempt. His passer rating was 56.4, his worst in any game since he posted a 53.5 against the Jets in 2013 and his second-worst ever in the playoffs (49.1 vs. Ravens in 2010). He barely resembled the guy we know as one of the best who ever played the game and a quarterback who is money in the playoffs.
The Broncos were able to control Brady and win because, simply put, they had a lot of good pass rushers. Von Miller, the second pick of the 2011 draft, had 2.5 sacks and 4 hits (sacks also count as hits) of Brady yesterday. DE Derek Wolfe (1 sack, 4 hits) was a second-round draft pick in 2012. Former Cowboys star DeMarcus Ware (0.5 sacks, 7 hits) was a free agent pickup in 2014. DE Malik Jackson didn’t get a sack but the 2012 fifth-round pick did hit Brady three times.
Denver spent its first round pick last year on OLB Shane Ray, who didn’t get in on the sack party yesterday. But he did post four sacks on the year and he is expected to develop into a double-digit sack type of player. It would not be surprising if they tabbed another player with pass rushing ability in the draft this year as Jackson is set to be a free agent and Ware don’t have a whole lot of effective years left.
And that is why Redskins fans do not need to be concerned about the possibility that re-signing Junior Galette will stunt the development of Preston Smith. Or that there won’t be snaps for Trent Murphy. Or how Ryan Kerrigan fits into the picture. Or what happens if (when?) Scot McCloughan drafts or signs another pass rusher (or two?) this spring.
To be sure, it can’t be all about pass rushers. Denver can put on pressure because its defensive backs do a good job covering one-on-one. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart help the pass rushers do their thing so the draft and free agency can’t be all about the guys up front.
Right now the Redskins have three effective pass rushers in Kerrigan, Smith, and Chris Baker. Galette is a free agent but he has said that he will re-sign with Washington. Jason Hatcher was better getting to the quarterback than his two sacks indicate but he may not be back due to retirement and a high salary cap number. Murphy, who had 3.5 sacks last year, may or may not develop into a consistent pass rusher.
So with possible retirements and other question marks, the Redskins need a few more players who can get to the quarterback to get into the pipeline. And when they do that, McCloughan needs to stockpile a few more.
—The Redskins last played a game 16 days ago. It will be about 229 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL Combine 29; NFL free agency starts 43; 2016 NFL draft 93
In case you missed it
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- Redskins 2015 awards: Defensive Player of the Year
- Jameis Winston selected to Pro Bowl over Kirk Cousins
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. shares his draft philosophy for the Redskins
- How upsetting is it that Taylor is a Pro Bowler but Cousins isn't?
- Pierre Thomas on future with Redskins: Hopefully I get a call back
- Report: Eagles ink playmaking tight end to long extension
- OPEN THREAD: Should the Redskins have hired Wade Phillips?
- How many draft picks do the Redskins have?