Arizona Cardinals fans are very aware of the play of inside linebacker Daryl Washington. He is one of the best defensive players that no one talks about. With names like Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson and Calais Campbell, it is easy to get overlooked. But we also know that the way Arizona's defense is designed, linebackers are expected to make lots of plays.
The Cardinals defense is also predicated on the blitz coming from all over the place. This is perhaps one reason why Washington, as noted by Pro Football Focus, is the best at his position at pass rushing effectiveness -- the best over the last three years. That is a pretty good feather in his cap, as he only has two years of experience in the league.
Washington has not rushed the passer a lot. Over the last three season, Lawrence Timmons has done it the most -- 469 times, an average of about 155 times a year. Brian Cushing and James Farrior are next with 462. Washington? 165 times in two seasons. But he was asked to do it about four times as much in 2011 as in 2010, likely a result of Ray Horton's schemes.
How effective was Washington? He produced 35 pressures in 165 rushes, good for almost 17 percent. The next best rate was just over 14 percent (14.23 by Green Bay's Desmond Bishop). Cushing is asked to rush the passer so much because he is good at it. despite the volume, he is third in effectiveness, at 14.03 percent.
I do not discount the fact that Horton's schemes probably make Washington even better at pass rushing, but he still has to make the plays.
I get the impression based on the volume of rushes that Farrior and Timmons have had in the last three seasons, combined with the large increase in 2011 for Washington, that QBs will be seeing a lot of number 58.
Since he seems to have a knack for it, it doesn't look like it is a bad idea.
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