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Redskins Must Finish Pressures On Quarterbacks

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Through the first seven games of the season, the Redskins have gotten their chances at racking up some sacks, but they need to finish more plays as the year wears on.

While the Redskins have been able to generate some turmoil in the pocket this season, the stats show they haven't recorded as many sacks as they would've liked.

Defensive lineman Chris Baker and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan are tied for the team lead in sacks through seven games at 3.5 apiece.

In total, the defense has tallied just 13 sacks – 19th best in the NFL entering Sunday's action.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has been pleased with the team's ability to get into the backfield, but it must find ways to finish more plays with a quarterback takedown.

"Well, we had some good pass rush," Gruden said last week. "I think we missed three or four sack opportunities[vs. the Buccaneers]. Again, when we get back there we've got to wrap the quarterback up. I think Ricky Jean [Francois] missed a couple, Trent [Murphy] missed one. We missed a couple the week before. [Jason] Hatcher missed one the week before. These guys are rushing hard. I think we have the people in here that can rush, we've just got to do a better job of finishing plays with a sack or the forced fumble."

Baker has had a breakout season of sorts this year, as the undrafted defensive lineman who started his Redskins career on the practice squad has amassed 26 tackles and two forced fumbles along with his 3.5 sacks.

He said the team has been sharper with their hand placement in pass rush this year thanks to assistant strength and conditioning coach Joe Kim.

Now it's just a matter of completing plays once gaining leverage against opposing offensive lines.  

"Sacks they come in bunches, so when we get them we are going to get them," he said. "There might be some games where we don't get to them as much, but when we do get those sacks they come in bunches."

Kerrigan, meanwhile, has had an up and down season to date, as he recorded two sacks on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Week 5 but also missed on two opportunities to take down Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford among others.

He's shown over the years to be one of the more disruptive outside linebackers in the NFL, but the Purdue product left the Redskins' 31-30 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday with a broken bone in his right hand.

He had successful surgery on Monday and hopes to play in the Redskins' next game against the New England Patriots with some sort of protective gear over his hand.

Drafted by the Redskins in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Kerrigan has started every game over the last four-plus seasons.

"I started out with a club where I had no fingers free or my hand at all and kind of just managed through training camp practices with that," said Kerrigan, who played through a broken hand his freshman year at Purdue. "Then slowly I just got a cover on the palm of my hand, the meat of my hand, and I was fine playing with that."

The Redskins have a difficult task next week in the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Patriots are once again off to an undefeated start at 7-0, led by quarterback Tom Brady who has thrown just one interception all week.

Capable of slipping out of would-be tackles and extending plays, the Redskins know that they cannot let him get free, especially in the pocket. Brady has also excelled despite having a patchwork offensive line protecting him up front, as the future Hall of Famer has been sacked 18 times this season, tied for the 11th most in the league.

"We missed way too many tackles," Gruden said of the defense. "I like the effort that they're playing with. There's a lot of things we can build off of. The main thing is just tackling and finishing plays and running to the ball. I always preach on hustle plays and the fundamentals of tackling, trying to get the ball out, turnovers. Those are things that we're going to continue to work and work and work."

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