An anchor on the Redskins defense since his selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, Ryan Kerrigan enters the 2019 campaign hungry to make individual improvements and help elevate the team’s defensive unit.
The additions of defensive linemen Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Daron Payne and outside linebackers Ryan Anderson and Montez Sweat -- all within the last four seasons -- have taken some of the pressure off Kerrigan to produce. Still, the goal for the four-time Pro Bowler remains the same: take down opposing quarterbacks as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“It’s just repetition," Kerrigan said. "It’s really locking in in practice and focusing on, ‘OK, I’m going to take off on this angle, every single play I’m going to use this footwork and I’m going to really drive and put all my weight on this leg and drive and not false step.’ So it’s one of those things that just has to be a mindset and priority in practice.”
Ahead of the Redskins’ home opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Redskins.com spoke to Kerrigan about his individual expectations, the potential of the defense and more.
Question: What’s your mindset going into Year 9?
Kerrigan: First, I just feel fortunate. I've been with one team my whole career for nine years. That doesn't miss me with how special that is. I feel really fortunate.
But I think the mentality is the same as it is every year: win, win now. For guys like me, you're getting older in the league and whatnot, and you want to win and win now. That's my mentality, and however I can help the team win, that's what I want to do.
Q: How has your offseason routine changed since entering the league?
Kerrigan: I've always prided myself on taking care of my body, but I would say as you get older in the league, you just have to spend more time taking care of your body. It used to be I'd do my thing after practice -- foam roll, stretch -- but now that foam roll, stretch period is pushing an hour, while before it was 30 minutes.
So you just got to invest more time in it. And now at home, I don't just go home and hang out and play video games. I go home, get in my hyperbaric chamber, watch some film and try to get in bed as early as I possibly can. You just got to invest more time and really just plan out your day so that you can be at your best.
Take a look at the top images from the Redskins' game against the Eagles on September 8th, 2019.
Q: What were your specific offseason goals how did you accomplish them?
Kerrigan: I think as you get older, the one thing is physically, you always need to stay up on your flexibility. That's one thing I really tried to -- it's always been a priority of mine -- but I really tried to take a greater approach to this year. I spent a lot more time foam rolling and stretching. That's one thing I tried to harp on extra hard this offseason: mobility, pliability, flexibility.
Q: What aspect of your game have you emphasized entering 2019?
Kerrigan: Just a good, I call it a pass-rush line, pass-rush track. Taking a good angle to the quarterback is something that when I’m doing it well I’m productive when I rush, and when I’m not doing it well I’m not productive when I rush. So that’s something that year after year no matter the results of a previous season, that’s one thing I’m always trying to get better at -- be more consistent with my angle to the quarterback, not waste any movement because every step is time, and the more time you give a quarterback the more steps you take that aren’t efficient in getting to him. That’s costing yourself.
Q: What are your expectations for the defense?
Kerrigan: We have high expectations for ourselves. I think I’ve mentioned before we have the pieces there, it’s about us coming together and doing it for 16 weeks. It’s easy to do it for one practice, it’s easy to do it for one game, but can we do it for 16 games. So we got to find a way to get it done not just one day, but each day and step forward.
Q: What are the Redskins capable of achieving in 2019?
Kerrigan: We’re confident. I mean we’ve got a lot of talent in here. Like I’ve said to the defense, we’ve got as much talent here defensively since I’ve been here. So, the time is now for us to put it together and just believe in ourselves. Hell, the Eagles were last place in the division in 2016, and the next year they won the Super Bowl. So, there’s a lot of parity in this league. It could be your year any year.”