Washington Football Team: Let’s take a moment to appreciate Ryan Kerrigan

Ryan Kerrigan’s performance for the Washington Football Team was critical to their win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

On Sunday, the Washington Football Team kickstarted the Ron Rivera era with a 27-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The win was one that was much-needed for a success-starved fan base who are buying into the culture change going on under Rivera and will certainly give a lot of confidence that, at the very least, things are moving in the right direction.

But at the outset of the game, it didn’t look like that was the case. In fact, Washington looked downright woeful off the bat to the point that it appeared they may get blown out. They fell down 17-0 and made countless mental mistakes including penalties and blown coverages that inspired little hope that they would be able to emerge with the win.

Despite there being little hope early, one Washington player helped to change the game. That was Ryan Kerrigan. The long-time Washington pass rusher may not have played much on Sunday — he saw only 22 of 68 defensive snaps — but he made an impact and well may have been the MVP for the team.

When Kerrigan got his first sack, the game felt like it was slipping away from Washington. It was only 7-0  at the time, but Washington was lacking discipline on defense, wasn’t generating as much pressure as everyone had thought they would, and frankly, Carson Wentz looked comfortable in the pocket. That was a bad sign for the team and they needed a spark.

Kerrigan provided that. He worked his way into the backfield and was able to bring down Wentz for a big loss. While that didn’t amount to anything right away as the Eagles would score the next 10 points, it did break the seal for them in terms of sacks and it began the process of speeding up Wentz’s throws.

With Kerrigan playing so little, he was fresh every time he was on the field. He provided an excellent change of pace behind Montez Sweat and Chase Young and was able to be a big-time playmaker as he has been so often throughout the years.

But the biggest impact of his timely plays were that they helped to instill a confidence in the defensive line that they could get to Wentz and get him out of rhythm. And that they did.

Kerrigan emerged with two sacks during the day, the first of which tied Dexter Manley for the franchise’s all-time sack record and the second of which broke the record. Kerrigan’s 92 sacks are now the most in Washington history and he certainly will have a chance to break the 100 mark provided that he can stay healthy and remains with the team beyond this season.

Above all else, this vintage performance from Kerrigan should remind Washington fans just how lucky they’ve been to see Kerrigan in action. For the past decade, he has routinely been one of the more underrated players in the NFL. He has made an impact despite playing on poor defenses and with inadequate coaches.

And throughout the whole process, he has been nothing but a great leader and teammate.

Next: Studs and duds from Washington's season-opening win

The buzz may be about Young and Sweat now, as those two figure to be a dynamic duo for Washington in the years to come. But Sunday’s game reminded us all, Kerrigan still deserves attention and appreciation for what he has been able to do during his 10 years in Washington.

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