Redskins defensive end Ryan Kerrigan discussed a variety of topics during his Zoom conference with the local media Thursday. Here's what we learned:
1. Kerrigan wants to finish his career in Washington.
Kerrigan has been with the Redskins since 2011, and while his contract expires after this season, he does not want to go anywhere.
"I obviously hope to be here for the duration of my football career, however long that is," Kerrigan said. "I've gotten to talk to [head] coach [Ron] Rivera a couple of times over the phone, haven't really been able to meet him in person yet because of the whole lockdown and what not. Hopefully I'm here for the long haul. I want to be here. They know where I stand and I want to be here."
Kerrigan, the second-longest tenured Redskins player behind long snapper Nick Sundberg, has been a model of durability, consistency and excellence during his first nine years in the NFL. Kerrigan started 139 consecutive games before missing some time down the stretch of 2019, and he's currently 1.5 sacks away from becoming the franchise's all-time sack leader. He's also made the Pro Bowl in three of the past four seasons.
Kerrigan is coming off a 5.5-sack campaign, the lowest of his career, but he is looking forward to rebounding along a young and talented defensive line.
"What I did last year was definitely not what I ever want to put on film again," Kerrigan said. "I got away from some fundamental things that really prevented me from being productive like I usually am."
2. He's looking forward to his role within the 4-3 defense.
Kerrigan's role will not change significantly as he transitions from an outside linebacker to a defensive end, but he's looking forward to playing in a 4-3 defense for the first time in his NFL career.
"Just going through the Zoom meetings these past couple of months and getting to learn what they expect from us on the edge, it's exciting," Kerrigan said. "I'm hoping, obviously, to be a big part of this team and this defense."
What excites Kerrigan the most about defensive coordinator's Jack Del Rio's defense is its aggressiveness. Del Rio wants the defensive ends dropping in coverage less and rushing the quarterback more, while he and defensive line coach Sam Mills III expect the front four to play fast, physical and in the backfield, which Kerrigan said is similar to how him and his teammates played at Purdue.
Combine that defensive philosophy with a group of five former first-rounders, and Kerrigan believes this unit could have a substantial amount of success.
3. Chase Young has really impressed him.
Kerrigan understood Young's NFL potential before the Redskins drafted him second overall. If he was in their position, he admits he would have chosen Young, too. The physical traits and collegiate production are too hard to ignore.
But now that Kerrigan has been in virtual meetings with Young, he has all that much more respect for the 21-year-old playmaker.
"Chase has been really impressive," Kerrigan said. "He seems to have picked up the defense pretty well so far. That's what I'm usually impressed with a lot of guys when they come in the league is how quickly they can pick things up mentally. You know the physical talent is there, but can they pick things up mentally? I think Chase has shown that so far."
4. He believes this defense is talented yet unproven.
With first-rounders up front and a Pro Bowler in the secondary, the defense was supposed to anchor the Redskins in 2019 as a young offense figured out its identity. Instead, the unit struggled to defend the run and finished 27th in the NFL with 385.1 total yards allowed per game.
The narrative is largely the same entering this season, especially with two defensive-minded coaches leading the way. "We have a lot of talent, that's for sure," Kerrigan said.
But for the Redskins to validate their defensive investment, they must produce at a much higher level.
"We look real good on paper right now, but that will only get you so far," Kerrigan said. "We have to go out there and prove it, go out there and work during training camp or whenever it is that we get together and make it happen."
Kerrigan said the unit's first test will come against Scott Turner's offense during training camp, which is scheduled to begin in late July.
"Are we having one good day against our offense or one bad day? Are we stacking good day after good day after good day? If you're doing that, then you kind of get the sense of, 'We're going to be pretty good.' That consistency will be a good telling point I think for us."
5. "We're all against racism."
Kerrigan said he was fortunate to grow up in a diverse community where race was never an issue, so it frustrates him that social injustice remains so prevalent.
"When I think about those people I grew up with and people I've been in locker rooms with, it's like, 'Man, how do we as a society still make these individuals feel this way, at this time?' That's one of the things that's just been a bummer to kind of reflect on and think about over these couple of weeks."
Upon discussing these topics in Zoom meetings this past week, Kerrigan said it is clear that everyone is on the same page.
"We're all against racism, and I think that's one thing that we're all uniting in," Kerrigan said. "We don't want anyone to feel that they're not equal to others just because of race or skin color."