On Sunday, linebackers London Fletcher and Ryan Kerrigan were named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad. They join fellow linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who was selected as the NFC special-teamer, as well as offensive tackle Trent Williams for the annual game in Hawaii.
It is the fourth-consecutive trip for Fletcher, who was snubbed before coming to Washington in 2007. It is the inaugural trip for teammates Kerrigan, Williams and Alexander.
With the rightful inclusion of three Redskins linebackers in the Pro Bowl, the Redskins now boast one of the strongest linebacking corps in the NFL. This is a major accomplishment for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and his coaching staff, who converted the Redskins from a 4-3 system to the 3-4 after his arrival in 2010.
Find out what the rest of the Redskins linebacker unit said here as well as an interesting fact that the Redskins share with a Super Bowl-bound team:
Orakpo, Jackson, Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley comprise the rest of the linebacker unit that continually came up with clutch plays throughout the season.
Orakpo is no stranger to the Pro Bowl as he represented the Redskins in 2009 and 2010, his first two years in the league. In his first two seasons, he accumulated 106 tackles, 19,5 sacks, two passes defensed, and two fumbles forced. In his rookie season, he set the franchise record for sacks by a rookie, with 11.5.
When Orakpo was felled by a season-ending pectoral tear, veteran Rob Jackson took over at starting outside linebacker for the remainder of the season.
Jackson had never started an NFL game before being named Orakpo’s replacement, but his performance and prduction did not reflect his experience. He finished the season with 37 tackles, six passes defensed, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions, and two fumbles forced.
His four interceptions trailed only Fletcher (five), but no takeaways were bigger than his interception in Week 17, with the NFC title on the line. In front of a rabid crowd at FedExField and a national television audience, Jackson snared a Tony Romo pass inside the Cowboys’ 30 yard line, putting the Redskins within striking distance and a three-point lead.
The ensuing touchdown on offense put the Redskins up by 10 and brought the Redskins their first title in 13 seasons.
In his first full season as a starter, Perry Riley brought speed and energy to the middle of the defense, starting all 16 games. He posted career-highs in tackles, sacks, passes defensed, and forced fumbles. His 129 tackles was second on the team behind only Fletcher and ranked him No. 14 overall in the NFL.
Here’s an interesting nugget: the last team to have three linebackers elected to the Pro Bowl was the Baltimore Ravens.
Just like the Redskins, the Ravens sent an inside linebacker in Ray Lewis, an outside linebacker in Terrell Suggs and a special teams ace in Brendon Ayanbadejo for the AFC squad in 2009.
And just in case you weren’t aware, all three players are key contributors for the Super Bowl bound Ravens. Hopefully, the Redskins can follow in the footsteps of the Ravens in their quest for another Super Bowl victory.
Congrats to London, Ryan, Lorenzo, and Trent on their inclusion on the NFC Pro Bowl roster and enjoy the warm temperatures in Hawaii as Redskins Park and the rest of the DMV root you on during the coldest week of the winter season thus far!
Tags: Brian Orakpo, jim haslett, london fletcher, Lorenzo Alexander, perry riley, rob jackson, ryan kerrigan, washington redskins
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