Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ray Lewis, Jesus, and...Brian Orakpo?

Let's be real here.

Skepticism of the Redskins' plan to create a special hybrid role for Brian Orakpo, the 13th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft for all you n00bs out there, has been rampant in the annals of the DC Landing Strip.

Let's be real one more time.

Our doubt was, and still may be, legitimate. Read: the Redskins' organization hasn't necessarily been a well-oiled machine since the Snyder era began in June of 1999, or as most of you probably remember it, the first day of elections for the European Parliament. What a crazy day?!

Frankly, there hasn't been much precedent for a stud-college-DE-turned-pro-LB in a 4-3 defense, although the transition has proven successful in several 3-4 schemes. So before we crowned Orakpo the next Terrell Suggs...err DeMarcus Ware...err Joey Porter...err James Harrison...we thought it appropriate to take a few free shots at the top of the Skins organization. A reflex is a reflex, people.

Is it time for us to eat our words?


Before I go any further I must shamelessly admit to a shameful history of jumping ahead of myself in a desperate search for hope in this championship starved sports town. Screw you, at least I'm not an Eagles fan.

And before you read any further swallow this grain of salt: we are only a few weeks of training camp and one preseason game into a very long season of football.

But it appears Brian Orakpo, the same Brian Orakpo of once-speculated-idiotic-creation-of-hybrid-position-in-a-4-3-defense, has brought to the table an element that the Redskins defense has lacked since we lost Sean Taylor* two seasons ago:


Piss-in-your-pants, eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head, alligator-body fear.

(Did you really think this post wouldn't be littered with anti-Philly references? Didn't think so.)

Coaches have been pleased with his progress up to this point but understand there is room for improvement, especially in coverage.

Jim Zorn has acknowledged his exceptional speed and "think[s] we got a player there." Really, coach? I sure hope you did with the 13th overall pick.

One particular play stood out during the Skins excruciatingly boring 23-0 loss to Baltimore. It can be found at the 1:50 mark of this video recap. Orakpo absolutely drills Ravens QB Troy Smith, barely able to release the ball before smacking the turf. That play highlighted the attributes we can only hope Orakpo brings to the table every down on every Sunday: speed, strength, and intimidation.

Jason Campbell marvelled at how we have two players that opposing quarterbacks shutter at the sight of in Orakpo and Big Al Haynesworth. Combine the fear those two instill with an overdue breakout season for LaRon Landry and steady play from the rest of the defense, including a rejuvenated Phillip Daniels, and it looks like the Skins have the makings of a championship caliber defense.

Let's analyze those two words for a minute: championship caliber. The defense was outstanding last year; there is no denying that. But calling it championship caliber would be foolish given the lack of turnovers created and even one guy whom opposing offenses had to game-plan around on EVERY SINGLE PLAY.

This year could be different, and god-willing it will be. The key to it all, though, the Redskins X-Factor, if you're a fan of that cliched term, is Orakpo.

Hell, even a few Skins rookies were hazed today. Among those hazed? Not Orakpo. Perhaps his time is coming, but the only two people I'd be less likely to duct tape to a goalpost than Orakpo are Ray Lewis and Jesus. And I'm a wiz with the duct tape.

UPDATE: Orakpo taped to goal posts. Go figure.

*If you have not seen this video, watch it. And then watch it again. And again. Nothing more cathartic than a tribute to #21 with Enya playing in the background and a box of tissues on hand.

[Title Image via All Hail Redskins]

1 comment:

  1. Ray Lewis is still one of the most intimidating players and best linebackers in the league even with double digit seasons in the league.


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