The young man out of Purdue was looking great last Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens. The Redskins first round pick was successful in just about every phase of outside linebacker. Ryan Kerrigan looked 20 times more natural in the third preseason game than I thought he might half way through the season. He does have a few things to work on, but they will be corrected with coaching and time. Here are some notes I took re-watching Kerrigan's tape from Thursday:
*Transitioning from defensive end has helped him play against the run. He chases down backside runs, keeps his arms free, and don't even try to block him with a tight end or fullback (it's just not fair). In back-to-back plays Ryan beat a TE or FB to make a tackle.
*Played on the line during goaline formations and held his own. The one run that came his way got stuffed and the touchdown run was to the opposite side.
*Ryan's sack came on a motor play (something he was known for coming into the league). The back attempts to chip him – Kerrigan pushes off into a spin and tracks down Flacco from behind.
*Almost had another sack if he could have found Flacco – First he bumped the TE (love this) and then he threw the right tackle to the ground on a bull rush. If Kerrigan could have found Joe quick enough, he would have added to his preseason sack total.
*Kerrigan's pressure helped force the DeAngelo Hall pick six. He again gets away from the blocking back quickly and is right next to Flacco with both arms raise, when Flacco throws the pick.
*I really do like it when a linebacker gets physical at the line with tight ends or receivers. Kerrigan does a good job of pushing guys off their initial break which makes it more difficult for timing quick routes (quick slants, drags, ect.).
*Kerrigan looks pretty darn good in coverage as well. He almost exclusively played in zone, but some plays he would have a cover the running back or rush option (assuming the RB stayed to block).
*On the Brian Orakpo sack, Joe Flacco saw that Kerrigan was in position and looking right back at him – Flacco pumps the ball and gets hit. (Looking back, it could have been a pump-and go-to try to beat Hall – Ryan was still in position though)
That's where Kerrigan has impressed me the most. A lot, isn't it? Surprisingly the area he has to work on the most, I thought would be a strength for him early in his career; rushing the passer.
*He needs to work on getting his pad level under the defenders. He doesn't turn the corner sharp enough or low enough and was regularly pushed behind Flacco by Baltimore's back-up right tackle.
*Kerrigan also jumped off sides twice, but that seems to be in his adjustment to the two point stance. (He almost jumped several other times as well)
*HE IS NOT A 3-4 DEFENSIVE END – I'm not sure why they placed him there in one of their nickel packages. They also only rushed three one of those times. Big mistake, Flacco had all day to find Anquan Boldin inside the Redskins' five yard line.
Overall I would give Ryan a B+ in the game. I thought he played very well in scenarios I never thought he would naturally excel. There is still work to be done, but he has solidified his role as starting outside linebacker. Even with lockout and knee injury hampering his learning/practicing time.
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