At defensive end, the Redskins boast this season's second overall selection, a first-round pick from last season and a longtime stalwart who's on the verge of breaking the franchise's sack record. That's a loaded trio.
But as loaded as that trio is, Ron Rivera sounds just as enamored by what he has on the middle of his defensive line. During his appearance on the team's Offseason Update Live show on Monday night, the coach made sure to praise the "four interior guys that really had good years last year."
"Those four guys are going to allow the speed on the outside to make plays for us," Rivera said. "That's what's so exciting about watching those young guys with the speed on the outside is, really, the push on the inside."
The players he's talking about, of course, are Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne (whom Rivera mentioned specifically as someone who can still grow), Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle.
While they may not generate the hype that Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan do, Rivera believes they could be even more critical for Washington's fortunes in 2020.
"When I was in Carolina in 2015, the biggest reason we had the success we had was the interior push," he said. "The quarterback couldn't step out of the way."
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Together, the edge rushers and inside threats make up what should be the strength of the Redskins and, maybe/possibly/hopefully, one of the most lethal units in the entire NFL.
After all, this bunch finished 10th in the league in sacks in 2019, and now, they're a year older, working under a more proven staff and will bring Young to their weekly parties in the backfield, too.
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According to Rivera, there's one thing the defensive front must do beginning in Week 1 to fully realize the potential everyone sees in them: Put collective production over individual stats. They all have the physical assets required to be difference makers, and as long as their mentality matches those skills, he expects them to deliver.
"That's exactly what you need, is guys that are selfless," Rivera said, "that are all about the team."
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