RICHMOND—During 11-on-11 drills on Thursday, Ryan Kerrigan was wearing out the offensive line. On one pass play he got into the backfield and chased Kirk Cousins out of the pocket to the quarterback’s right side. Cousins kept his eyes downfield and spotted DeSean Jackson running near the sideline. He threw on the run and dropped the pass in between defenders to Jackson, who got both feet in before stepping out of bounds.
It was just one play on the first day of training camp during a practice without pads but there was some significance because it represented an area where Cousins struggled last year. When he had time to throw he was very effective. According to Football Outsiders, Cousins and the Redskins had the fourth most efficient offense in the NFL when the quarterback had time to throw. But when he was pressured Cousins’ efficiency dropped to 35 among the 37 quarterbacks who had at least 200 pass plays.
All quarterbacks are less efficient when they are rushed. But the ability to minimize the difficulties caused by the rush and to be able to make off-schedule plays is one thing that separates the good quarterbacks from the great ones.
That is not always the case. Jay Cutler was the quarterback who performed the best when under pressure last year and I don’t think anyone calls him great, or even very good. But when you see others in the top 10 such as Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson you can conclude that there is at least a loose correlation between remaining efficient in the face of the rush and having recognition as one of the best in the game.
That is where Cousins wants to be. He may never be great when under pass rush pressure but if he can improve to somewhere in the middle of the pack he can build off of his efficiency when he has time to throw and turn into a very good quarterback.
That process starts in practice with plays like the pass to Jackson. It is something to keep an eye on as training camp and the preseason unfold.
You'd think that comparing an offensive line to The Hogs — that famous unit who played a major role in the Redskins' best days in the 1980s and '90s — would come across as a compliment.
But one Dallas sportscaster didn't take it as such when a CSN reporter tried to do so.
On Wednesday's edition of Countdown to Training Camp, Newy Scruggs joined Chris Miller and Doc Walker to talk about the Cowboys. During that discussion, Miller asked Scruggs if the team's revered offensive line could end up as the second coming of The Hogs.
Scruggs responded by calling that thought disrespectful. Not disrespectful to The Hogs, however.
"We've already had a great wall in Dallas that won three Super Bowls, OK?" Scruggs said with a tone that was a mix of annoyed and incredulous. "Why can't they be that next version? Let's not compare them to something that's over in Washington."
To see Scruggs' full answer to Miller's question and his entire explanation for why he didn't like it, watch the video above. And for any Redskins fans who don't like the way he spoke about The Hogs, here's the man's Twitter. Now, tweet away.
MORE NFL: TWO STEPS THAT'LL MAKE RYAN KERRIGAN MUCH BETTER
Here's a list of things you can depend on Ryan Kerrigan doing: having bigger biceps than you, being a part of the world's cutest engagement photos and showing up on Sundays to harrass opposing quarterbacks.
The Redskins' 2011 first-round pick has never missed an NFL game and has averaged 9.75 sacks over the course of his six-year career. But CSN analyst and former Redskin Doc Walker thinks the 28-year-old can be even better than the production he's posted for Washington.
"He can get that waking up," Walker said, referring to the 11 sacks Kerrigan notched last season. "I need 16, big fella."
But in Walker's opinion, there are two things that are holding the Pro Bowler back from reaching the next level. For his full analysis of what's missing, watch the video above.
MORE REDSKINS: CLINTON PORTIS ONCE CONTEMPLATED MURDER