The 2020 season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its inaugural campaign under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.
Ryan Kerrigan has been lauded for his pass-rushing efficiency this season, and for good reason. Through 12 weeks, he ranks third in the NFL in sack percentage (3.7) among players with at least 100 pass rushes, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Who is No. 1 in that category? That would be teammate Tim Settle.
"Tim loves what he's doing," defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said earlier this month. "He comes to work every day with great energy. ...I'm happy for Tim and the work that he's put in and the way he's attacking things. Penetrate and disrupt is what we're about up front, and Tim embraces that."
Settle, a fifth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is only playing about 21.9 defensive snaps per game yet ranks third on the team in sacks (5.0) and is tied for third in quarterback hits (six). Settle has rushed the passer 111 times this season, according to Sports Info Solutions, giving him a league-best sack rate of 4.5%.
A lot of that success has happened recently, as four of those sacks have come in the past five games. During that stretch, he is averaging a sack every 29 snaps.
"You see a lot of growth," Rivera said of Settle before the Bengals' game. "Here's a young man who had a good college career, played some last year, played a little bit more for us this year."
Sometimes it is easy to forget about Settle along a defensive line filled with first-round picks. And that is not even including defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, who has been the team's best interior pass-rusher the past few seasons. But with Ioannidis lost for the season with a torn bicep, Settle has stepped up with career highs in nearly every statistical category. The advanced analytics also like Settle, as he has the team's second-highest Pro Football Focus grade (84.0) behind fellow defensive tackle Jonathan Allen.
Perhaps the most memorable part of Settle's game is his sack dance, which was on national display when he brought down quarterback Andy Dalton early in the fourth quarter. Settle popped off the turf at AT&T Stadium and, with his arms by his side, started bouncing around like penguin as his teammates came over to celebrate.
"He told me he was going to be hopping around like a penguin after he got some sacks," Del Rio said. "I said I'd love to see it, and I've been able to see it a couple times."
The way Settle is playing, Del Rio better get used to it.
"That's just what I did when I was in college, and I was going to stick with it," Settle said. "And y'all going to keep seeing it! Y'all going to keep seeing it."
-- Jonathan Allen's quietly productive season: Allen does not have the sacks that Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan do, and he rarely makes flashy plays like Chase Young. But over the past four games, no interior defensive lineman has been better, according to PFF.
Allen is coming off his highest single-game grade (90.8) after making four tackles and recovering a fumble against the Cowboys. That gives him 45 tackles for the season, which leads all NFL defensive linemen. He also has an overall grade of 84.6, which is the best among Washington defenders and 12th among all interior defensive linemen.
-- What's interesting vs. what's important: Despite its 4-7 record, Washington is in good position to capture the NFC East title with five game left to play. The Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1) have by far the toughest schedule of any division team, and the New York Giants (4-7) could be without Daniel Jones (hamstring) for the immediate future. The Dallas Cowboys (3-8) have the easiest schedule, but Washington has already beaten them twice.
That is all interesting, Rivera said, but what is important is the team's upcoming matchup with the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and then games against the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. If Washington cannot win at least one of those games, its playoff chances will take a significant hit.
"I've been through this, and I know when you focus on what you have to do, when you focus on your next opponent because it's the next most important game you have to play, you give yourself a better chance. But when you start worrying about: 'Oh, what if this happens?' No. You can't control that. Control what you can. That's what gives you the chance to be successful."
-- "It's been a long time coming": It was a historic week for women in football. On Saturday, Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 college football game. On Sunday, Cleveland Browns Chief of Staff Callie Brownson became the first woman to coach a position group during an NFL regular season game.
Rivera, who has been a longtime advocate for women in football and hired Jennifer King -- the NFL's first Black female full-year intern -- thinks "it's really cool" that these barriers are being broken down.
"We've got to come to terms that this is our new reality. Women in professional sports that have been predominantly male, those doors are starting to get kicked down. We saw what's happening in baseball with the first female general manager. It's been a long time coming. First of all, there are so many women that have been involved in female athletics. It's just the first step in the right direction because it's going to give opportunities to everybody, not just certainly men but women as well. I just think it's good for us, it's good for the world and it's good for our business."
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