He stood as a glimmer of hope on a defensive unit that ranked 10th overall just a season ago. In 2009 Brian Orakpo fell into the Redskins laps in the first round. Most had predicted he would be off the board by the time Washington’s pick was up. Instead the Redskins were able to land the Lombardi award winner from the University of Texas with the 13th pick overall.
The move provided immediate dividends as Orakpo started his rookie season and tallied 11 sacks during his freshman campaign. He quickly generated buzz in D.C. which embraced him with an assortment of nicknames such as “O-Sack-Po” and “Orakposaurus”.
Redskin’s fans eagerly anticipated the possibilities that now lay ahead. In 2010 he delighted us with 7 sacks in his first 7 games. In his last 7 games however, Orakpo has just 1.5 sacks. So what is the cause of this drastic misfortune?
It is no coincidence that the lack of production from Brian Orakpo these last seven games has coincided with several blowout losses to division rivals while the Redskins have generated little to no pass rush.
Perhaps opponents have become privy to Washington’s one dimensional scheme. Orakpo however has not helped his cause. He still gets his fare share of one on one match-ups but has been routinely losing these battles in recent weeks. Referee’s have not helped him out either. Orakpo was blatantly held on the play that led to Tampa Bay’s winning touchdown just a few weeks ago.
As his sack production has drastically declined, Orakpo’s tackles have marginally increased. Opponents have countered Orakpo’s pass rush by forcing him into coverage. While his coverage skills have improved his size and strength are best utilized on the line of scrimmage.
Injuries seem to have hampered Orakpo most. He was forced out of several games down the stretch including the most recent contest against Dallas. These hobbling ailments have no doubt limited his resourcefulness. Now with groin and hamstring issues, it is questionable if Orakpo will be able to play again this year.
The 3-4 was supposed to turn Brian Orakpo into Washington’s version of DeMarcus Ware. Instead, 2010 has been a disappointment along with many other Redskins players. Many of these players we won’t be seeing next year. Despite the frustration however, Orakpo is here to stay.
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