Friday Conversation: Ryan Kerrigan

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who leads the Washington Redskins with 6.5 sacks, talks about pass rushing, whether or not he’s elite and what he’d like to do in his next career.

You take things hard and are tough on yourself, so when you evaluate your season what do you look at first?

Ryan Kerrigan: At the start of the season I said I wanted to be consistent and I haven’t been that. A couple games I had a couple sacks and in other games I haven’t had sacks or [tackles for a loss]. I dropped the pick in Minnesota. It’s frustrating because I work hard and really pride myself on what I do so I take it hard when I don’t do well and live up to my expectations.

You looked as crushed as anybody after the Minnesota game because of the play you nearly made. How much does a game like that weigh on you?

Kerrigan: I definitely did take that hard. I did everything right on that play except catch the ball. I saw in the backfield and knew it was coming. That’s from film study and I put that work in to make the play. And I defeated the cut block to make the play and then I dropped the ball. It’s a tough play; he’s 10 yards away and he fires it. It’s tough but I have to make the play and it could have been a game-turner.

How do you cope with games like that?

Kerrigan: I wanted to scream and break things, but I knew that wouldn’t get me anywhere so I just tried to ... I let it hurt for a day and thought about it and put it behind me. The only way I’ll make it next time is if I keep working and keep preparing.

What have you liked about your rushes and where do you wish you were better?

Kerrigan: I still would like to be more effective counter rushing, getting guys on inside moves more. It’s not always there and it’s something I have to keep working at but another part of it is having the confidence and doing it and not worrying if I’m going to lose that rush and just do it.

You felt you rushed too conservative at times last year. What does that stem from and are you doing it better now?

Kerrigan: It’s tough to say what it stems from. Part of it is we put a focus on keeping the quarterback in the pocket. We want to do that, especially when facing a guy like [Colin] Kaepernick this week. Sometimes you have to take chances and go make a play.

Are you getting better in that area?

Kerrigan: I think so. There have been a couple instances I’ve been happier this year than in year’s past with my willingness to take a chance. Against Chicago a couple times I didn’t get a sack, but I got pressured and the quarterback escaped the other way and I came back inside on a rush and I was able to chase him outside the pocket.

What defines a good rush?

Kerrigan: Ultimately you want to get the sack. At the same time it takes four to have a good rush to get a sack or pressure. If we’re all collapsing and condensing the pocket then I think we’re doing a good job.

What defines an elite pass-rusher?

Kerrigan: First of all it starts with them beating a guy one on one and then having that relentlessness where if the play breaks down to keep chasing the quarterback and make the play.

Can you be one or do you feel you are?

Kerrigan: I don’t think I’m there but I can be. I have to keep working and keep developing the inside moves because if you have an offensive lineman guessing then your chances are good.

People don’t always see your personality; you come across as a good, wholesome guy. Do you like showing a funny side like in the commercials? Are there things people don’t realize about you?

Kerrigan: I think so. I like it that way. All my friends, if a lot of people saw how I am with my close group of friends they wouldn’t believe it was me -- that’s not in a bad way. I’m not wild and crazy, but I definitely have my work attitude and I have my away attitude. I razz my friends a lot, always giving them crap. I’m a lot more easygoing away from the field.

Do you like doing the commercials?

Kerrigan: I do. This year the Thompson Creek one was especially fun. The first year I had to tackle a guy and that was funny. This year it was off the wall and I was like, "Sure, that sounds like a good time." [The Modell's commercial], I had seen that bit before with Danny Woodhead, I think. I was like, "That would be a good one for me."

What do you like to do away from football?

Kerrigan: I really like being around people I know. In the summertime I’m a big water guy, always at the pool or on the lake. I like to hang out. I just like boating, not fishing. I’ve only fished a couple times.

When you’re done playing, do you have a career in mind?

Kerrigan: I’ve got a couple in mind. It would be cool to do play-by-play. I could add knowledge to the telecast. I would like to coach. It seems cool, but I don’t know if I could do it professionally or in college; probably more high school. I’d like to stay around the game because I like football so much.

Forgot to ask: How’s your knee?

Kerrigan: It’s good. It bothered me a little bit here and there but overall it hasn’t been much of a problem. I’m not really limited.