While the outcome in the Washington Redskins' Week 9 bout with the San Diego Chargers wasn't a familiar one—they won!—the relatively clean jersey of the opposing team's quarterback was an all too familiar sight.
The Redskins only sacked Philip Rivers once in that contest, and for the sixth time this season, Brian Orakpo was held without a sack. Hence the question: Is it time for Washington to worry about Orakpo?
At this juncture, the answer has to be a definitive yes.
Orakpo missed 14 games in 2012 with a torn pectoral muscle. In his absence, the Redskins' pass defense was epically bad last season.
Ranked 30th against the pass in 2012, MechLocal.com's sports reporter Josiah Turner echoed the public's opinion on Washington's defense in this tweet:
With Orakpo back in the fold this season, the Redskins were supposed to be better at defending the pass. Well, that simply hasn't been the case.
Washington's pass defense is again bad. This season the Redskins have given up 282 passing yards per game, identical to the amount they allowed last season.
Some improvement, right?
If those numbers don't alert you to the lack of impact Orakpo has had this season, then his season total of three sacks should. Without the help of nomad quarterback Matt Flynn—who has already been cut, by what, two teams this season?—Orakpo would have a grand total of one sack.
So, how exactly does a guy revered around the league as an elite pass-rusher only have three sacks?
With free agency looming in the offseason for Orakpo, one could ponder if the pressure to produce is affecting his play.
Well, you can consider that theory squashed. In comments Orakpo made to ESPN.com's John Keim, he blew off such an idea. "That contract stuff, we'll worry about it later. I'm not really concerned with it right now," Orakpo said.
If that's the case, then why the disappearing act from Orakpo on Sundays?
Ask Keim, and Orakpo's lack of production is tied to him being the focus of opposing offenses. This was a sentiment that Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett reiterated in an interview with Keim.
"Everybody's targeting somebody and [offenses] target Rak," Haslett said.
Problem is, when hasn't this been the case? Going back to Orakpo's rookie season, he's led the Redskins in sacks in every season, save 2012 when he only played two games.
His sack totals in those three seasons were 11.5, 8.5 and 9.0.
Notice the declining trend there? Orakpo's 2013 production is simply falling in line with the downward track he was on prior to getting hurt.
As it stands, Orakpo is only on pace for six sacks this season.
Still, according to Orakpo, the sack numbers are going to come. "Put a lot of pressure, a lot of quarterback hits. They'll come," he said to Keim.
With Washington attempting to emulate last season's run to the postseason, it's in the Redskins' best interest that those sacks start coming in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Regardless of whether he wants to focus on his contract situation or not, Orakpo's production in the Redskins' final eight games will surely go a long way in determining if he'll be back in Washington in 2014.
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