LANDOVER — Ryan Kerrigan used just two words to describe Chase Young. The Washington defensive end had watched the rookie for weeks in training camp, but on Sunday, it was finally the second overall pick’s chance to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
Young did not disappoint.
“As advertised,” Kerrigan said.
Young had 1½ sacks in Washington’s stunning 27-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles — taking part in a dominant day for the defense. Washington logged eight sacks, its most since Week 2 of the 2014 season. It held Philadelphia to 265 yards.
Washington’s hope was that Young, with his explosive speed and crafty handwork, would unlock the rest of the defense. Mission accomplished.
Philadelphia was missing three starters on the offensive line. The Eagles had lost left tackle Andre Dillard and right guard Brandon Brooks prior to the season and on Sunday, All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson was declared inactive with an ankle injury. Washington took advantage, causing Carson Wentz to be under duress all afternoon.
Their performance was the main reason why Washington erased a 17-0 deficit. The defensive line made key and timely stops, including Young’s strip-sack on Wentz to seal the game late in the fourth quarter.
“When you have the depth like we do, I feel like you definitely wear people down,” Young said.
It wasn’t just Young who shined. Kerrigan had two sacks — surpassing Dexter Manley as Washington’s all-time sack leader with 92. Kerrigan was still productive despite being reduced to a reserve role. The 31-year-old came off the bench for the first time in his career as Young and Montez Sweat were the starters.
Kerrigan, though, said he felt relieved breaking the record in the first game of the year. That way, he said, he wouldn’t have to “wait around.”
Washington’s pressure came from all over. Young, Sweat and Kerrigan were forces off the edge, while Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne generated an interior push.
Using the strength of the line, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio also dialed up a variety of blitzes to contain Philadelphia. Down 17-14, Washington blitzed linebacker Jon Bostic on fourth-and-3 and got a straight shot on Wentz. The play was made possible as Philadelphia’s linemen were matched up with Washington’s defensive line.
Coach Ron Rivera was glad to see the production. For months, Rivera and his players had answered questions about Washington’s potential upfront, but they had cautioned that the results would be on the field.
Rivera said it was also an example of hard work paying off. As part of the team’s switch to a 4-3 scheme, coaches required the defensive linemen to change their techniques. Initially, Rivera said he saw resistance. Guys were stubborn, he said. But gradually players embraced the new techniques as training camp progressed.
The line also overcame some early jitters, such as when Young jumped offsides in the first quarter to give Philadelphia a first down.
Rivera said once the defense started making stops, his team realized they were capable of winning.
“That was a lot of fun to see because we have a lot of good young players on this team,” Rivera said. “If we do it right and play it right, who knows where we can go.”