- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 28, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — With Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen on the Redskins’ roster, a guy like Matt Ioannidis can be easy to overlook.

He wasn’t drafted in the first round, like his two teammates. He doesn’t see the field as often, either.

But his dance moves — and his play — are becoming hard to ignore.

After Ioannidis sacked New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning during Sunday’s 20-13 win, the 2016 fifth-rounder broke out “the floss” — swinging his arms in front and behind his hips.

A man of Ioannidis’ size (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) shouldn’t be able to move that well.

“I loved it,” Allen said.

Allen, too, is loving what Ioannidis has brought to the defense. Against the Giants, the 24-year-old had 2 ½ sacks, bringing his total to 5 ½ on the season. The latter is a career-high.

Ioannidis isn’t an every-down player. Prior to the Giants, he played in just 48 percent of the snaps. The Redskins use Ioannidis in their base package, sticking with just Payne and Allen when they play in nickel (which has three cornerbacks instead of two).

But in his limited playing time, Ioannidis is thriving.

“Matt does play hard, and he is also very strong,” coach Jay Gruden said. “He is one of the strongest guys on our team, and he is a smart football player too — he understands leverages and double teams and all that.”

Ioannidis, though, has the benefit of being able to rush the passer without being double teamed often. Cornerback Josh Norman said opposing lines are often more worried about Allen and Payne. They also have to account for linebackers Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan, who can also rush the passer.

That frees up Ioannidis.

As a team, the Redskins finished with seven sacks.

“You may want to watch out for 98, too,” Norman said. “Those three tackles, man, they are phenomenal playing together. They’re all friends and they’re tight. It is what it is. … We’re going to take our opportunities back there.”

Ioannidis wasn’t active much of his rookie year. He appeared in just 10 games and only played 102 snaps. He recorded only seven tackles.

In 2017, though, Ioannidis emerged as a reliable role player. He was a fixture in Washington’s defensive line rotation and saw his playing time increase after the Redskins suffered a plethora of injuries.

Ioannidis made the most of his playing time. He was disruptive in the passing game, finishing the year with 4 ½ sacks.

The key to Ioannidis’success? Brute force.

Because he’s matched up one-on-one with offensive linemen, Ioannidis can drive and push his opponent back. Sometimes he doesn’t even need to let go to make the play. In a Week 3 win against the Green Bay Packers, Ioannidis charged ahead and forced Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga on top of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

On Sunday, Ioannidis got to Manning by bulldozing right past his matchup. On his first sack, the lineman drove guard John Greco back and then disengaged to pivot toward Manning.

Ioannidis was briefly doubled teamed on his second, but not for long enough. Once it became a one-on-one scenario, the Temple product shoved center Spencer Pulley to the ground — allowing him to crush Manning.

“He’s an animal,” Allen said. “He’s a dog. … Pass-rushing is about relentlessness, he got it.”

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