Grading the Redskins: Kerrigan breaks out

Grading the Redskins: Kerrigan breaks out
December 25, 2012, 11:15 am

Defense

Grade vs. Eagles: B

Comment: The unit got off to a shaky start, allowing the Eagles to cover 76 yards, convert two fourth downs and score on the game’s first drive. Then it had Redskins Nation (not to mention the players and coaches on the sideline) holding its breath in the final seconds. But Jim Haslett’s group was, for most part, adequate in between.

The unit yielded 400-plus yards for only the second time in nine games. But it once again compensated by forcing two turnovers and not allowing Nick Foles to get comfortable. The rookie quarterback fumbled once, threw an interception, was sacked five times (for 24 yards) and played the second half with a broken hand.

The five sacks were the most in 27 contests for the Redskins’ defense, while the two takeaways gave the unit 12 during the six-game winning streak.

Three players deserve kudos for their standout performances:

*Ryan Kerrigan had arguably his best game of the season. The second-year linebacker forced a fumble in Washington’s end late in the first quarter and registered a pair of sacks, bringing his season total to 8.5 (one more than last season). He also had a season-high five tackles.

*Barry Cofield also played a starring role. The veteran nose tackle was credited with a quarterback hit and defending three passes, including a deflection that led to an interception by London Fletcher in the second quarter. Cofield had one tackle, but it was an impressive one: he raced across the field to snuff out a screen pass to Jeremy Maclin.

“He’s picking it up,” Coach Mike Shanahan said of Cofield. “You can see him making plays that a lot of nose tackles can’t make.”

* Fletcher, meantime, did what Fletcher does. The 37-year-old recorded a game-high 12 tackles and notched his fifth interception, a career-high. Four of those picks have come in the last five games.

Overall, it was another bend-but-don’t-break kind of day for the defense. Lately, though, it’s all the Redskins have needed from the unit.