Given that it’s next to impossible for fans of any team — but particularly fans of the Washington Redskins — to simply enjoy being 4-1, we’ve begun to hear some gripes about the lack of a pass rush.
There is a current of misguided thought that sees the sack as some Holy Grail of defensive stats. People believe that unless they see sacks on a consistent basis, their team is not generating a pass rush. It would be easy to look at the fact that the Redskins defense has allowed the ninth most passing yards in the league and conclude that they have a problem which must be addressed.
But, as so often is the case, one stat does not tell the whole story.
Through five games this season, the Redskins have played the number 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 ranked passing offenses. Despite that, they rank 10th in the league in yards per pass allowed, teams are completing just under 59% of their passes, tied for 9th in the league, they’ve allowed only six passing touchdowns and opposing quarterbacks have posted a QB rating of 77.7 against them. They’ve allowed only 12 passing plays of 20 or more yards and only 2 plays of over 40 yards.
Those stats simply do not happen against those types of offenses unless you are generating some type of pressure on a quarterback. The QB ratings of the quarterbacks the Redskins have faced are: 102.5 (Warner), 100.5 (Romo), 99.7 (Manning), 97.7 (Brees) and 92.9 (McNabb). Quarterbacks like that will shred a defense to pieces if, as has been suggested, the Redskins were not able to apply some level of consistent pressure.
It’s also worth noting that the Redskins have seen the fourth most passing attempts in the league. That’s partially a function of the offenses they’ve played but it’s also a result of the Redskins having the ninth ranked rushing defense. The defense has allowed one rush over 20 yards and none of more than 40. The defense, especially of late, has done a spectacular job of simply eliminating the running game as an option, as such teams are forced to put the ball in the air.
This is not to say that the Redskins do not need sacks nor that the pass rush they have right now is ideal. It is to say that they have faced extremely good passing teams and have risen to the challenge each time. The secondary play has been tremendous but any defensive back will tell you, given enough time to throw, opposing quarterbacks will find a way to beat you. So far, that has not happened and some of the credit has to go to the supposedly non-existent pass rush.