If you look at the defensive stats from the Broncos game last Sunday you don’t see much of Brian Orakpo. Yes, he did bat down a pass and recover Peyton Manning’s third-quarter fumble. But he had had no tackles or assists and no sacks.
You don’t have to go back too far to find a similar game for Orakpo. In Week 6 against the Cowboys, Orakpo had the same stat line but with no passes defensed and no fumbles recovered. His name simply didn’t appear on the stat sheet despite the fact that the played 49 of the 54 defensive snaps.
Is Orakpo having enough of an impact? It’s a contract year and he was one of many looking for big things in 2013. Orakpo’s stated goal was to be the defensive player of the year. His return from injury was supposed to help lift the Redskins’ defense out of the lower levels of NFL rankings. So far, they’re still near the bottom. The numbers don’t tell all but they do say something.
According to Mike Shanahan, all that matters is the bottom line for the defense. “Well, they chipped him a few times and we understand Peyton [Manning] gets rid of the football very quickly,” he said on Monday when asked about Orakpo’s zero-tackle day. “I think I’ll take four turnovers on defense and not worry about how many sacks ‘Rak got – more so on how disruptive he was in the game. To get four turnovers on that football team is a little bit unusual and I’m proud of the ability for our defense to come up with those plays.”
The folks at Pro Football Focus are impressed with Orakpo’s play this year even if some fans are not. He has by far the highest overall grade of any Redskins defender, getting positive marks both in his pass rushing and run stopping. He has only three sacks but PFF credits him with eight quarterback hits and 19 hurries. The combined 27 pressures lead the team.
He may be the best player on the Redskins’ defense but they are 29th in yards give up per game, 30th in rushing yards allowed. It’s hard to make the case that Orakpo is a difference maker.
In recent games Orakpo has improved in one of his weaker areas, takeaways. He had the fumble recovery against Denver. A week before that he returned an interception for a touchdown against the Bears. So in the last two weeks, Orakpo has had the first interception, first touchdown, and second fumble recovery of his five-year career.
If his only appearances on the stat line a high-impact plays like those, the Redskins will be very happy and he likely will get the big-money contract extension he’s looking for. We will see if he has turned around this aspect of his game.