Ryan Kerrigan Backs Redskins Defense

The Washington Redskins are first in the East Division with a 3-1 record and the club has a rookie to thank for some of its success. The 16th overall pick of the 'skins out of Purdue, Ryan Kerrigan has adjusted well to his linebacker role after spending much of his time in college as a defensive end.

Kerrigan, a native of Muncie, Indiana, currently has the third highest Positive Win Probability Added (+WPA) at 0.83 amongst linebackers in the National Football League. Only Michael Boley of the New York Giants (0.87) and Sean Lee of the Dallas Cowboys (0.86) have performed better. The trio is the cream of crop in the NFL with the next highest +WPA coming in at 0.66 from Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens. Both Suggs and Boley are veterans of the league – a combined 16 years between them – while Lee is in his sophomore campaign.

Digging deeper into the numbers we see even more signs that Kerrigan has the chance to be a special defensive player. If we look at his Positive Expected Points Added (+EPA) from each of the first four games of the season, we see that the rookie has made his presence known in each contest:

Game 1: 7.4 +EPA
Game 2: 5.4 +EPA
Game 3: 3.6 +EPA
Game 4: 4.6 +EPA

He's sixth overall in the league in total +EPA with 21.0.

Kerrigan has already managed 13 tackles on a team that has struggled in that category and currently ranks second last overall in the NFL. He had four assists in his first pro game and even intercepted a pass and ran it for a nine-yard touchdown - the only interception by the Redskins' defensive unit this season.

What's even more encouraging for Washington is that Kerrigan is showing signs of getting even better. While in college, he set the record as the Big Ten's all-time forced fumbles leader. In the NFL, the big man did not force a fumble in his first two games but he had one in each of his next two matches. The team is tied for second in the league with seven so expect Kerrigan to contribute to this stat even more as the weeks progress.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has received a lot of media attention for his outstanding start to the season - the hype magnified because of his role as QB - but Kerrigan's work in the trenches deserves a lot of praise as well.

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4 Responses to “Ryan Kerrigan Backs Redskins Defense”

  1. probablepicks.com says:

    "The Washington Redskins are second in the East Division with a 3-1 record..."

    Aren't the Redskins in first place in the NFC East, because they currently own the tiebreaker from beating the Giants, who are also 3-1?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Should Brian Orakpo get some credit for Kerrigan's success? Having a two-time Pro Bowler on the other side has to have helped. Often it's the combination that matters. On the 49ers, Bryant Young made Dana Stubblefield look great but, without Young, Stubby was average, at best. The question will be whether Kerrigan can keep these numbers up once offenses adjust for his play so far. I'm thinking he can. The Orakpo/Kerrigan combo should harass QBs for years to come.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Should Brian Orakpo get some credit for Kerrigan's success? Having a two-time Pro Bowler on the other side has to have helped. Often it's the combination that matters. On the 49ers, Bryant Young made Dana Stubblefield look great but, without Young, Stubby was average, at best. The question will be whether Kerrigan can keep these numbers up once offenses adjust for his play so far. I'm thinking he can. The Orakpo/Kerrigan combo should harass QBs for years to come.

  4. Brian Burke says:

    That's a fair point. You can't really tell from the numbers alone. But there are a lot of young players put on the other side of the field from pro-bowlers who never make the impact Kerrigan already has.

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