Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett‘s sudden turnaround from fans’ most fireable coach in the D.C. region to one of the league’s best defensive coordinators in 2012 owes a great deal to how on Earth he was able to paste together a defense that got by with a slew of injuries, among other things.
The first major defensive wave by far hit the hardest; this being the one that took defensive end Adam Carriker and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo in Week 2.
Orakpo’s Achilles tear placed him on injured reserve and cut short his fourth year which, if momentum is any indicator, could have seen him join the ranks of the elite pass rushers and overall edge defenders. Orakpo notched 28.5 sacks and two Pro Bowl selections in his first three seasons since Washington took him with their top pick in 2009. Despite ranking in the mid-teens in major pass-rush frequency metrics, Orakpo’s pass-rush productivy number according to Pro Football Focus landed him at fifth in the league in 2011; so Orakpo’s making the most of his opportunities to rush the passer. His PRP ranked just behind the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Clay Matthews.
With the start of preseason now less than 100 days away, Orakpo continues to work his way back into 2011 form at Redskins camp. Orakpo’s ability to continue his rate of progression will be key for third-year ‘Skins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who took a step back in most respects without Orakpo on the field, including fewer sacks and pass deflections.
It would also greatly help Orakpo draw attention as he enters a contract year with no new deal.
“I’m not worried about it,” Orakpo said recently, via The Washington Post. “I’m concentrating on having a successful season. Everything will take care of itself.”