As the NFL continually evolves into even more of a passing league, the importance of defenses having a strong pass rush - like the Washington Redskins had during the 2016 season - cannot be more stated.
The Redskins were tied for the ninth most sacks  in the league as a team in 2016, primarily because each and every man on defense went beyond the call of duty to get to the quarterback and make his day miserable.
With the help of Nex Gen Stats, NFL.com Associate Fantasy Writer/Editor Matt Harmon was able to compile a list of the Top-10 pass rushing teams, and coming at No. 9 are the Redskins, who's average distance to the quarterback pass was 2.83 yards. The statistics are taken thanks to tracking chips, which are placed inside the players' shoulder pads.
This is what Harmon had to say about Washington's defense:
"Their secondary and front seven are littered with talented players," Harmon said. "Second-year edge defender Preston Smith is their best pass-rusher, ranking 16th in the NFL with 4.03 yards of distance to the quarterback at the time of throw or sack. Smith racked up 13 sacks over his first two seasons. Ryan Kerrigan led the team this year with 11 sacks. Both he and Trent Murphy finished above the NFL average in the Next Gen Stats individual pressure metric for edge players with 100-plus rush attempts."
It wasn't just Washington's linebackers who put pressure on quarterbacks during the 2016 season. Quarterbacks also felt the heat coming from the first line of defense.
"The biggest surprise for Washington had to be the play of defensive end Chris Baker, who ranked 16th among interior pass rushers with 4.29 average yards of distance to the quarterback," Harmon said.
With the elevation of Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator, and the addition of Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach, both of whom have a knack of getting the most out of their players, it's safe to assume that Washington's defense will be just as hard on quarterbacks during the 2017 season as they were during the 2016 season.