The Redskins only sacked Sam Bradford twice last Sunday in Arizona, and despite the dominant defensive effort in a 24-6 win, some Redskins fans worry about the lack of pass rush.
For Jay Gruden, that isn't the case.
"We do have to do a better job with our four-man rush getting more pressure but I think that will come," the head coach explained on the Redskins Talk podcast.
"Overall I think we were so aware of where David Johnson was, we wanted to make sure we kept him in check and then got to the passer a little bit later."
The last time Washington faced Arizona in 2016, Johnson went for more than 170 total yards and two TDs. He destroyed any chance at a Redskins win with a 13-yard run on a fourth down conversion in the second half that sealed the Cardinals victory.
Last Sunday, it was obvious the Redskins learned their lesson.
The Redskins held Johnson to under 40 yards rushing, and almost more importantly, the skilled running back only had 30 yards receiving. Johnson is a dynamic back out of the backfield in the pass game, and Washington's defensive scheme clearly focused on keeping him controlled.
Sacks don't always tell the full story, and they certainly don't in the Week 1 Redskins win.
While Washington only brought Bradford down twice, they held him largely ineffective. He completed just 20 of 34 passes and managed only 153 yards passing with no touchdowns and an interception. Most important, Bradford averaged only 4.5 yards-per-attempt.
Ryan Anderson and Matt Ioannidis did get sacks on Bradford, but generally, the Cardinals statuesque QB was not harassed.
"We did have some plays when we pushed the pocket. On [Quinton] Dunbar’s interception, [Bradford] couldn’t step into the throw, and he sailed the ball and Dunbar got it," Gruden said. "There was some good push in the pocket."
Simply put, Bradford and the Cardinals offense could not get downfield, and that was because of the Redskins' defensive design. By and large, Washington rushed just four players in pass situations. That allowed the Redskins to deploy more cornerbacks, linebackers and safeties in positions to slow Johnson and limit Larry Fitzgerald working out of the slot position.
"We pushed the pocket against Sam, just made him a little bit uncomfortable," Gruden said.
In Week 2, the challenge shifts.
Andrew Luck and the Colts come to town. Indianapolis does not have a dynamic running threat like Johnson, and Luck can move around more in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield.
The Redskins defense will likely need to adjust, and that could mean more aggressive pressure up front.
Regardless what the pass rush looks like against the Colts, don't think what happened in Arizona was from a lack of pressure. It was by design.
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