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John DeShazier: Getting to Washington QB Kirk Cousins easier said than done

Washington QB sacked just nine times this season

The more the opposing quarterbacks change, the more the objective stays the same for the New Orleans Saints defense.

Produce stops on first and second down, forcing third-and-long situations. Then, get after the quarterback. Hit him, hurry him, force him out of the pocket, hopefully sack him.

The latter will be of particular note Sunday, when the Saints (4-5) play Washington (3-5) at FedExField in Landover, Md.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins has been sacked a league-low nine times this season, and only has been taken down more than once in a game one time, when he was sacked twice by St. Louis in Week 2.

"The key is first and second down," Saints defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "If we can get him in some long situations, then you can get any quarterback to hold the ball longer. That's kind of our game plan every week, stop first and second down, make it a long situation in the pass game, and give our rushers a chance to go get him."

"Just try to bring pressure after him, get it going, have guys in his face and make his throws a little bit harder," said outside linebacker Kasim Edebali, who has three sacks this season. "Because he gets the ball out really quick."

Getting the ball out quick hasn't been the problem for Cousins. Keeping it away from the opposition has been, though. He has thrown nine interceptions this season; in four games, he has thrown two interceptions. Washington, in fact, is 0-5 in games when Cousins has thrown an interception.

Also, there's the fact that the Redskins haven't had an effective running game. Washington averages 91.3 rushing yards per game, and 3.6 yards per carry. Forcing the Redskins to be one-dimensional might bode well for the Saints.

"They haven't been doing that well in the run game, but you know they're going to stick with it," Williams said. "They've got a great running back in Alfred Morris (95 carries for 312 yards this season), and he's a real good runner the last few years. So I don't think they're going to totally abandon it.

"I think they threw so much previously because they've been behind. We want to have them that way this week and give our rushers a chance."

And the rushers, having seen opposing quarterback after opposing quarterback get rid of the ball quickly, want to get their opportunities.

"I feel like every quarterback is trying to get the ball out as fast as possible," Edebali said. "But sometimes it's like, three-step dropback, screens, so it's a little harder to get after them recently. But we're just trying to get it going, keep building and keep getting better."

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