Football Team

Let's not overlook the impact of losing Matt Ioannidis

Football Team

Matt Ioannidis still isn't a big name nationally. Actually, he may still be only the fourth or fifth-biggest name on his own defensive line. 

But make no mistake about it: Ioannidis' season-ending bicep injury is a really big deal, and his loss will be a really big loss.

Washington isn't a team with a plethora of strengths, but one of its few top aspects is its pass rush. And those with a more optimistic view of things will say that, even without Ioannidis, Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio can still rely on Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Tim Settle for the rest of the schedule.

Those optimists aren't wrong, either. If a position group on the Burgundy and Gold is built to withstand something like this, it's the D-line. The wide receivers having to proceed without Terry McLaurin, for example, would be more difficult for the roster as a whole to overcome.

However, without Ioannidis, the interior rush is losing its top threat. The staff has talked up Settle for a while now, and he'll get his chance to step up, but he's not nearly as proven or as dangerous as Ioannidis. Few are, even if few recognize that like they should.

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The 26-year-old isn't an all-out dominant player like Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox or Chris Jones, but when it specifically comes to sacking the quarterback, he's seriously productive on a per-snap basis. Plus, since becoming a regular in the rotation, he's raised his game in that area in each and every campaign, posting 4.5 sacks in 2017, 7.5 in 2018 and 8.5 in 2019. 

 

Going off of those numbers, it's not unreasonable to say that Ioannidis was poised for his best season yet. Instead, it's cut short after three weeks and 1.5 sacks.

"He's a huge presence in the middle," Rivera said. "So we're going to miss him."

Ioannidis wasn't technically a starter, and he isn't a perfect player by any means. He's not nearly as stout against the run as he is when trying to pursue opposing passers, which is why Allen and Payne see the field far more than he typically does. 

Do not get it twisted, though: His absence will impact Washington's fortunes. Every individual on the defensive line is talented on their own, but together, their effectiveness multiplies. Losing one part of that group is going to inevitably affect the rest.