ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said their four-man pass rush has done its job, even though they’re not getting to the quarterback.
The Redskins haven’t applied much pressure on quarterbacks in recent weeks, particularly when holding a lead. When they’ve held a lead in the second half, they’ve recorded just one sack out of their four-man rush -- and it came when San Diego’s Philip Rivers held the ball for 4.4 seconds because of the coverage.
Last week, Minnesota consistently threw quick passes into soft zone coverage to blunt the pass rush, and used play-action. It prevented the occasional stunts from being effective. However, other teams have found a way to pressure under similar circumstances.
“Last week we had a number of times where we had great pass rushes,” Haslett said. “That’s not an excuse. I don’t know how many times Ryan [Kerrigan], Brian [Orakpo] had opportunities to get to the quarterback where they were grabbed and held. That was more disappointing than anything. I thought a number of times we did a great job rushing the quarterback. We didn’t get there more for that reason than anything.”
Here's more to consider: According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Redskins have allowed only 28.9 percent of third downs to be converted when using a four-man rush. They've allowed 41 percent to be converted with five or more rushers. But they've recorded a sack on 6.9 percent of pass attempts from a four-man rush compared to 7.3 percent from five-plus rushers.
“Yeah, I think those two are really good players,” Haslett said of Kerrigan and Orakpo. “Barry has a number of sacks; he’s doing a good job. Obviously we want to get better in all areas. We have to do a better job in that area also.”
After the bye week last season, when the Redskins were 3-6, the defensive coaches turned more aggressive and creative with the rush. With Orakpo back this season they don’t want to do that as much, putting the secondary in more stressful positions. They’d rather be able to cover with seven or six.
They have occasionally used different looks, with rookie linebacker Brandon Jenkins sometimes aligned next to Kerrigan, who is in a four-point stance. Rob Jackson's play time depends on the scheme, but he could offer some rush, too, in various situations.
“We try to do all we can do if the opportunity arises,” Haslett said. “Obviously there are things you can do based on who you’re playing, personnel and all that stuff. We’re always looking to do something to help us win the game.”