Football Team

Why Kerrigan winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week was impressive

Football Team

Washington pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan was awarded NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his Week 1 performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, one where he totaled two sacks in the team's 27-17 upset victory.

Sunday's performance is simply one Kerrigan will never forget. The 32-year-old's two sacks were the 91st and 92nd of his career, moving past Dexter Manley for the franchise's all-time record.

Washington's defense amassed eight sacks total on Sunday, exceeding even the high expectations placed on them entering Week 1.

But for Kerrigan, what's more impressive than how dominant he was against the Eagles' offensive line is just how much of an impact he had on the little number of snaps he played.

For the first time in Kerrigan's decade-long career, he played in an NFL game in which he wasn't a starter. Washington invested first-round picks at edge rusher in the past two drafts, and both rookie Chase Young and second-year pro Montez Sweat got the nod as starters on Sunday.

Kerrigan played just 22 defensive snaps, which was just 32% of the overall plays on defense. For comparison, Young played 53 snaps (78% of plays) and Sweat notched 48 snaps (71%).

On the 22 snaps Kerrigan played, Philadelphia gained just 107 total yards of offense (4.9 yards per play). 

Still, when Kerrigan was in the game, his presence was felt. His two sacks were a team-high, and only defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis forced more pressures than No. 91.

Earlier this offseason, new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said the plan was to have a rotation of the defensive front, keeping everyone fresh as the game went on.

 

Del Rio's plan worked to perfection in Week 1, as Washington's defense completely wore down the Eagles offensive line and made Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz uncomfortable the entire second half.

Of course, Kerrigan wasn't the only dominant defender for Washington in Week 1. Young notched 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Ioannidis had 1.5 sacks and four QB pressures. Sweat and linebacker Jon Bostic each had a sack, while defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne each split a sack.

It was an overall excellent combined effort on Sunday by Washington's defense, and a recipe the Burgundy and Gold hope can lead them to many wins this fall.

But between breaking the franchise sack record and earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, Sunday was Kerrigan's day, one he will never forget.