Heading into the 2011 season, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett figured that improving the Redskins' pass rush would improve the overall defense.
Through two games, he has been proven right.
Last year, the Redskins' defense ranked 25th in the NFL with 29 sacks. So far in 2011, the defense is ranked fourth in the league with seven sacks and is on pace for 56 sacks overall.
"The more you can pressure nowadays, the better you are going to be in this league," he said. "The front seven has done a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback and hopefully we can keep that up the next 14 to 15 weeks, and keep those totals up."
Given his new personnel this year, Haslett has the ability to pressure quarterbacks from all angles.
The seven sacks are divided up among six players. Many were the result of both game-planning and excellent effort by the linebackers.
Haslett expects offenses to adjust their blocking schemes to the Redskins' pass-rushers. He plans to stay one step ahead of offensive coordinators with unique blitz packages.
"We actually blitzed a little more from inside-out than the outside guys did the week before," he explained. "If [outside linebacker Ryan] Kerrigan keeps establishing himself, and [Brian] Orakpo is one of the better players in the league, then I think teams will block us differently, based off that."
Haslett also suggested that veteran inside linebacker London Fletcher could have a larger role in the blitz this year.
Fletcher has already blitzed four times, producing a half-sack. It seems offenses are rarely prepared for Fletcher to come in on the blitz and his effort is usually disruptive.
"He's a good blitzer," Haslett said. "He's good coming up the middle and good coming off the edge. He's kind of wiry and slippery, but he gets in there, and if he has to, he can be physical and bull-rush people."
Kerrigan's immediate success on the field has allowed Haslett to be more creative in his blitzes, putting more responsibility on his rookie linebacker.
"I thought Ryan did exactly what we worked on in practice," he explained. "He was physical on the tackles. The sack he got, he bull-rushed the tackle, ran into him and leveraged him."
Last year against Dallas, the Redskins managed to tally six sacks on defense in two games, including five on the road in Dallas. With two rookies starting on the Dallas offensive line, the Redskins' blitz could be a key to success in Monday night's game.