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Need to Know: The Redskins top five in sacks in the last 20 years

Feb 17, 2014, 5:11 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 17, two days before the start of the NFL Combine.

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Our stroll through recent Redskins history takes us to the pass rushers today. Here are the team’s top five in sacks in the last 20 years (1994-2013).

1. Ken Harvey (1994-1998) 41.5 sacks—It just so happens that 1994 was the year that Harvey came over from the Cardinals as a free agent. That also was his biggest sack season of his career as he racked up 13.5. That season brought the first of four straight Pro Bowl appearances for him as well.

2. Brian Orakpo (2009-2013) 39.5 sacks—Missing all but two games of the 2012 season likely keeps him from being on top of this list. The Redskins would like the pending free agent to return in 2014 and that will be one of the major story lines of this year.

3. Andre Carter (2006-2010) 34.0 sacks—Carter recorded two double-digit sack seasons in Washington with 10.5 in 2007 and 11 in 2009. He didn’t make the Pro Bowl until after he left the Redskins and was selected as a Patriot in 2011.

4. Bruce Smith (2000-2003) 29.0 sacks—Although he is not remembered fondly in Washington, the NFL’s all-time sacks leader did get after the quarterbacks some while he was here. He raced up 10 sacks in first season here and nine in 2013 2003.

5. Ryan Kerrigan (2011-2013)—It’s a credit to Kerrigan that he has been able to get to this point on the list in just three years in the league. It’s also an indicator of the fact that the Redskins haven’t had a whole lot of very good pass rushers in the past 20 year. For example, the Saints, who are not known for a fierce defense, have six players with more sacks than Redskins leader Harvey’s 41.5.

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—It’s been 50 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 202 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 2; NFL Free agency starts 22; Offseason workouts start 49; NFL Draft 80

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  1. kenlinkins - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    IMO Sacks are a over rated stat. I know that many believe that the great Pass Rushers all have high stack numbers but that is not true. Guys like Dave Butz could get pressure on the QB, get his hands into passing lanes, make QB throw early, control point of attack and only had one year of double digit Sacks. Monte Coleman was another guy who could force QB’s to throw early or Dump off quick and he too only had one year of double digit Sacks, These guys controlled QB’s, force them into field position games, didn’t allow inside passing lanes all while playing in the run heavy NFC East! IMO, getting pressure on the QB is the key to a great pass rush, not sacks. Even in todays NFL where the quick pass west coast offense is now king, if you get pressure early, close down the passing lanes, keep your hands in the QB’s face and reduce his vision (and not be concerned with sack totals) you can generate a great pass rush. And that is part of what is missing in the Redskins 3-4, we just do not get ANY push, and leave the passing lanes open. I do not know if it is by design or we just do not coach it but until we learn to do those two things it will not matter how many sacks we, QB’s will pick us apart.

  2. timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    WOW Bruce played last year He’s a Beast Lol obviously a typo

  3. colmac69 - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    Have to agree with kenlinkins on this one…getting pressure on qbs especially with three or four players is far better than just getting sacks..we seen in superbowl how seattle got great pressure on manning without blitzing too much…leads to ints..turnovers etc…we seen giants win two superbowls with tremendous pass rush with four linemen in playoffs against likes of pressure all qbs inc great ones make mistakes and make bad decisions…give any qbs space and time they cut apart a defense…for many yrs the skins have bn unable to generate gd enough pass rush without committing players…can it change nxt season who knows

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      Not sure I get this here. Of course it’s more than getting just sacks. And the team total is more important than an individual total. But it’s usually given that if a player gets, say, 12 sacks he’s also getting three or four times that many pressures and hits (unless the player is Rob Jackson in 2012).

      Sacks are also important because they create second and 18 instead of second and 10.

      Of the top 10 teams in sacks, seven made the playoffs and one, the Cards, won 10 games and missed the playoffs. That’s not a bad indicator of success (aware of cause and effect between leading and sacks).

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