Washington Redskins

Orakpo, Carriker Injuries Will Doom a Broken Washington Redskins Defense

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16:  Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo #98 of the Washington Redskins knocks the ball out of the hands of quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams during the game at Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
David WebberAnalyst ISeptember 17, 2012

The numbers through two weeks are brutal: 63 points allowed, 649 yards given up through the air, to go along with six passing touchdowns. We knew the Redskins' pass defense would be suspect in 2012, but in a year where defenses across the league figure to make a comeback, is this really how bad it's going to be?

The Redskins made the St. Louis Rams look like an absolute juggernaut on Sunday. The Rams averaged under 13 points per game last season (not a typo), yet they put up 31 and 452 total yards against a depleted Redskins secondary. It was, quite simply, a terrible defensive performance.

But get ready Redskins fans, it's about to get a whole lot worse.

Washington's defense took a huge blow this Sunday, as an already broken defense was further damaged with the losses of defensive end Adam Carriker and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.

The severity of Orakpo's injury is not currently known, but it's troubling that he hurt the same pectoral muscle that has caused him so much trouble of late. Carriker is a different story. Although he hasn't yet had an MRI, Mike Shanahan has said that it doesn't look good and that Carriker won't be back for a very long time.

These injuries aren't superfluous. Carriker has played every game for the Redskins for the last three years and has been an anchor on a surprisingly good three-man front. Orakpo is arguably the Redskins' best player and is an absolute terror coming off of the edge.

Carriker's backup is longtime Redskin Kedric Golston, and Orakpo's backup is Rob Jackson. Both players are superb backups, no one will deny that. Golston and Jackson have been excellent in spot duty over the past few years. But they aren't threats like the men they are replacing.

The Redskins must get healthy if they want to compete this year. It looks as though Washington might finally have a respectable offense, and to waste that would be a terrible thing. But without two of their best defensive players, is it possible to improve?

In short, probably not. The Redskins' secondary is so untalented and banged-up that the pass defense is essentially dependent on the front seven applying pressure to the opposing quarterback. If that pressure doesn't come, the secondary will be running around covering receivers that are finding holes all over the field, much like Danny Amendola was doing for the Rams.

Yes, Redskins fans, this is real. After several years of having solid defenses in Washington, it looks like we may have one of the worst in years on our hands. The margin for error is so small that any big play could potentially lead to much bigger things for opposing offenses. The Redskins could score 25 points per game, but it won't matter if they're giving up 31.

If their stars come back and those safeties finally get healthy, things could turn out for the better. But as of now, it looks like a pretty dire situation for Jim Hasslett's group.

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green must be foaming at their mouths. The Redskins must find a way to stop them next week, or risk going to 1-2.

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