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Haslett says he’ll turn Orkapo and Kerrigan loose

Feb 15, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

Orakpo-Kerrigan

Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett hit the radio this week and he promised to get more pass rush pressure out of outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

Speaking on Inside the Locker Room on ESPN 980, (via John Keim of ESPN) he talked about the need for the Redskins to improve the pass rush. After finishing 10th in the NFL with 41 sacks in 2011, they have averaged 34 sacks per season and have ranked 23rd and 21st.

It sounds like Haslett has two keys to making Kerrigan and Orakpo better pass rushers. One is to get them a coach. In the past, the Redskins have had one coach for the entire linebacking corps. This year they hired Brian Baker to specifically focus on the outside linebackers. To Haslett, that means pass rush.

Once they are coached up, Haslett is going to let them do their thing. “We’ll try to turn them loose more this year, do more with them game-wise,” he said. “Don’t worry so much if they lose contain, because they’ll lose frickin’ contain half the time. Let’s roll and make sure the tackles cover for them. Different things like that.”

This could mean having Orakpo and Kerrigan rush the passer more often rather than dropping going back to cover receivers.

“You’ll see more of what we want to do from the standpoint of coverage,” said Haslett.

The “what we want to do” could be taken as a shot at former head coach Mike Shanahan. Word is that he got heavily involved in the defense and Haslett did not have a free hand in running the unit. It appears that Jay Gruden will take the Joe Gibbs approach and let Haslett run the defense as he sees fit.

According to Pro Football Focus, all of the 3-4 linebackers who had more sacks than Orakpo last year rushed the quarterback more, some of them a lot more. For example, Mario Williams of the Bills had three more sacks, 14, than Orakpo’s 11 did but he rushed the quarterback 184 more times (547-383) to get them. Tamba Hali of the Chiefs had one more sack than Orakpo while trying to get a sack 117 more times (500-363).

If Orakpo got sacks on the same percentage of his rushes and went after the quarterback as many times as Williams did, Orakpo would have almost 17 sacks.

One side note from here—Haslett seems very confident that he will be coaching Orakpo, who is slated to be a free agent in March. Perhaps Haslett knows that the Redskins are going to keep Orakpo around one way (a contract agreement) or another (franchise tag).

  1. kenlinkins - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    OK, this makes sense to me if we take our DC at face value . The knocks on Orakpo have been that he has not been the guy to “blow up” plays all game long, that he only had one pass rushing move, complained to much about being held, only played the run so-so, and didn’t cause turn overs (both INT or Fumbles) at a high rate. The point about only having one LB coach makes even more sense about the lack of development and progress. How did we all miss that when trying to figure out if Orakpo is worth the TAG in 2014? Our DC’s statement begs the question why didn’t you do something about it and if the answer is that his hands were tied, maybe Tagging Orakpo for $11 million and finding out if he was misused and underrated is a smart football move. We all know that QB’s, LT’s, CB’s and Pass Rush OLB/DE are wroth big money, with a very weak pass rush Free Agent field out there in 2014 Orakpo’s cost could be much higher (say 5 years at $10 million with 75% of it sure money plus signing bonus), but the Redskins and only the Redskins can find out for about1/5 of that. While I still am not 100% sure that Orakpo is the answer at $11 million, if he is we can Tag him twice before finding a replacement in the draft and if he is not we find out cheaper than anyone else. Tagging him seems to be the smart football move!

  2. alextwrs - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Any chance we can move Rob Jackson to MLB with Perry Riley? He seems to fit the mold as his coverage skills are much better than RaK/Kerrigans, and his 4/5 ints a yr ago really stood out to me. He is not a pressure guy and we need help in the middle, is it that much of a jump. I think he is coachable, and this might save us a lot of time and effort finding a replacement for London. This would obviously mean Rak is resigned and Jenkins the backup on each side. I say get creative with the blitz packages and use the Jenkins kid the same way pete in seattle used his blevy of pass rushers.

  3. internetcareer - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    I posted last week about moving Rob Jackson to inside linebacker. In fact I have no idea why the search is on for a middle linebacker. RICH…you asked if the Skins should pick up one of the Saints like Vilma…but that doesn’t even make sense. Jackson is TWENTY POUNDS heavier than Vilma which is what U want in an inside linebacker. 230 pounds is not want we want from an INSIDE LINEBACKER. Jackson is an excellent tackler….can cover over the middle….I am clueless..CLUELESS..why the Redskins do not consider a loyal Redskin and solid player like Jackson for a position in which they have an opening and have no replacement. CLUELESS is what I am.??????????

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Well, for one thing Jackson isn’t under contract. Second, up until now there hasn’t been a need at ILB. I’m not sure why you would be so frustrated and CLUELESS that they haven’t announced a position move for a player who isn’t under contract.

      I have been told that at 6-4 Jackson is too tall to play inside backer in a 3-4. It’s too easy for guards and centers to get under his pads and control him. If you look around, you’ll find that most ILB’s are closer to 6-0, 6-1. Yes, three-four inches makes a difference. I’m not going to discuss him as a potential ILB candidate for that reason.

      There are some taller ILB’s. Karlos Dansby, a former outside backer, is 6-4. Both of Houston’s starters at ILB are 6-3. So if they bring him back, you never know.

      But it is far from being as simple as moving him over a few feet. Not all tackles can make the transition to guard, not all corners can make the transition to safety. It’s a matter of what you’re physically cut out to do.

  4. internetcareer - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    may I say that I am SICK…SICK…SICK of the hype!!!!! When Haslett came here that first season I heard Orakpo that in his deep baritone voice “man, we’re gonna rush the QB. WE GOT GUYS COMIN’ FROM EVERYWHERE!” This was BULLS*%T”. as we have seen Rak and Kerrigan are downfield covering guys who aren’t even in the pattern while the QB sits back and picks the defense apart. A 5th grader could have seen this. I saw this. Apparently Haslett hasn’t seen this….UNTIL NOW???? WOW…has he got Allen and Gruden fooled!

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      From what I can gather, dropping Orakpo into coverage as much as he did was not Haslett’s idea. It came from the top, aka, offensive genius but defensive bust Mike Shanahan. Haz would draw up ways to get more pass pressure in OTAs and early in training camp but when the season rolled around, Shanny wouldn’t let them in the playbook.

      I’m skeptical about how it will work out, too. I will report on all of the talk between now and September but my advice to fans is believe what you see, not what you hear.

  5. internetcareer - Feb 15, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    Rich thanks for the answers. Excellent answers I might add and you have confirmed that we don’t always know what is going on BEHIND THE SCENES…however…at the same time we don’t always know who is telling the truth either or whose version is to be believed. So I agree with you 100 percent when you say to believe only what we see and not what we hear. With that said..I hope Haz gets Rak, Jackson, Riley, and Baker back and at least has the opportunity to implement a new scheme. P.S. Shanahan was a CANCER. Glad it was cut out.

  6. Troy - Feb 15, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    All of this stuff about Shanny controlling things on defense is nothing but a smokescreen to justify keeping this dude around. This dude has been average or below average everywhere he’s been. I guess Shanny was pulling the strings when in was in New Orleans ans St. Louis too because his units stunk there too. Enough with the excuses for this dude. He is what his track record as us he is…….

  7. ryanmbellerose - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:52 AM

    he took the job knowing he was a puppet, haslett is bad, just plain bad as a dc

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