With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
Will Kerrigan reach double digits in sacks?
With 8.5 sacks in 2013, Kerrigan flirted with double digits for the second straight season, despite playing with a knee injury that nagged him much of the year. Although he didn’t use the injury as an excuse, he also didn’t have the same effectiveness after notching five sacks in the first four games. Well, the knee is no longer an issue after an offseason procedure. And he’s now got three years of experience on his resume and an assistant coach whose only job is to help him and Brian Orakpo become better pass rushers. Given all that, could this be the year Kerrigan takes that next step?
El-Bashir: I certainly believe Kerrigan is capable of getting 10-12 sacks and joining the top-10 pass rushers in the league. And there’s no shortage of reasons why. First of all, he's completely healthy. As I outlined in the intro, I suspect a gimpy knee played a role in his midseason swoon. He’s also going to benefit from the addition of pass rush coach Brian Baker, who spent the offseason helping the 25-year-old harness his biggest strength -- his power -- while also refining his technique. The addition of Jason Hatcher will help, too, as will scheme tweaks designed to allow Kerrigan and the other pass rushers to focus on attacking the quarterback. But you know what I really like? I like Kerrigan’s mindset entering his fourth season. In a recent interview with his hometown newspaper, he said, “I’m tired of being consistent. I want to be consistently really, really good. I don't want to be consistently average anymore.” That sounds like a player who did some offseason soul searching and is now itching to take his game to the next level.
Tandler: I’m certainly with everything that Tarik said and I’ll add a couple of additional reasons why Kerrigan has an excellent chance of posting 10-plus sacks. For one thing, it’s not much of a leap. He’s had 8.5 each of the last two years. With just a little improvement in technique and better health, he should be able to rack up the additional two sacks he needs to get past 10 almost by accident. And while Hatcher and Trent Murphy could help, Robert Griffin III, DeSean Jackson and the rest of the Redskins’ offense might help him even more. Last year, with the offense struggling to score points, opponents only threw 514 passes against Washington. The were able to use ball control to kill the clock. Only three teams saw fewer pass attempts against them. If the offense gets into gear, the defense will be on the field with a lead more frequently. That will force the opposition to take to the air, creating more chances for sacks for Kerrigan and the others.
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