Three Ways To Improve The Redskins Pass Rush:
1. Ensure that Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield are on the field as much as possible against the pass:
-Now this is not saying to overplay these guys, as I firmly believe that they need some plays off to stay fresh (and that includes Ryan Kerrigan). What this is saying though is that when possible sub them out on rushing downs, or earlier in the game, so that later in the game when the opposing team needs to pass they will be more fresh. Also, don’t sub out more than one of these guys at a time, losing one of their pass rushing abilities would make it hard enough to get after the quarterback, having two or three of them on the sideline would make for a nice clean pocket for the opposing quarterback.
2. Don’t be afraid to blitz, particularly with ILB’s and DB’s:
-The Redskins defense was more effective last year when they would allow for some cornerback, safety or inside linebacker blitzes. Yes it can be a risk with a team that struggles in coverage, but when you struggle in coverage the only real remedy is a pass rush to force the throw. The secondary can’t be asked to cover 3, 4 or even 5 seconds. If they have to do that they will lose. bringing a free rusher will help ensure the ball is coming out sooner which also increases the chances for mistakes. The one thing the Redskins secondary does do well is make quarterbacks pay for their mistakes. Guys like DeAngelo Hall, Brandon Meriweather, Phillip Thomas, David Amerson, and Bacarri Rambo, can have some positive value if the quarterback is under fire. The Redskins should look to mix up who and from where people are blitzing, but do it a fair amount each game. Now this doesn’t mean the Redskins should run the dreaded “zero blitz” every single time (though they shouldn’t be opposed to do it some). But it would be nice to see 5 rushers on most downs and six on a fair number of plays.
3. Get creative with your personnel packages and play calls:
-One thing that has held the Redskins back in recent years is the amount of plays that either Brian Orakpo or Ryan Kerrigan is in coverage. These are your two best rushers by far and yet too often one is trying to cover some running back or tight end (and typically not doing a good job). Both Orakpo and Kerrigan need to rush the quarterback together as much as possible. That is when other rushers will get free because offenses have to worry too much about these guys. Now if this means being in more of a sub package set, with just two down lineman, then so be it.
Another creative thing the Redskins should look into, is finding a way to get another pass rusher on the field, especially in key passing situations. Typically the Redskins nickel package will consist of two defensive linemen (likely Bowen and Cofield), Orakpo, and Kerrigan rushing the passer. With five defensive backs and both inside linebackers on the field as well. While it is good to blitz the slot corner or one of the inside linebackers in that situation, I’d like the Redskins to try to add another natural pass rusher on the field at times. Instead of having both Riley and Fletcher on the field, I’d sub out one (likely Fletcher) and bring in a natural pass rusher like rookie Brandon Jenkins. In that case you would probably have Jenkins rush from one of the edges, and have either Orakpo or Kerrigan stand up and rush from either the edge, or from more of an inside position. This would allow you to get extra creative and even have Orakpo and Kerrigan rush from the same side together at times, which could be a nightmare for opposing offenses.
What do you think? How can the Redskins maximize their pass rush?