Quick Links

Haslett says he'll turn Orkapo and Kerrigan loose

orakpo-kerrigan.png

Haslett says he'll turn Orkapo and Kerrigan loose

Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett hit the radio this week and he promised to get more pass rush pressure out of outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

Speaking on Inside the Locker Room on ESPN 980, (via John Keim of ESPN) he talked about the need for the Redskins to improve the pass rush. After finishing 10th in the NFL with 41 sacks in 2011, they have averaged 34 sacks per season and have ranked 23rd and 21st.

It sounds like Haslett has two keys to making Kerrigan and Orakpo better pass rushers. One is to get them a coach. In the past, the Redskins have had one coach for the entire linebacking corps. This year they hired Brian Baker to specifically focus on the outside linebackers. To Haslett, that means pass rush.

Once they are coached up, Haslett is going to let them do their thing. “We’ll try to turn them loose more this year, do more with them game-wise,” he said. “Don’t worry so much if they lose contain, because they’ll lose frickin’ contain half the time. Let’s roll and make sure the tackles cover for them. Different things like that.”

This could mean having Orakpo and Kerrigan rush the passer more often rather than dropping going back to cover receivers.

“You’ll see more of what we want to do from the standpoint of coverage,” said Haslett.

The “what we want to do” could be taken as a shot at former head coach Mike Shanahan. Word is that he got heavily involved in the defense and Haslett did not have a free hand in running the unit. It appears that Jay Gruden will take the Joe Gibbs approach and let Haslett run the defense as he sees fit.

According to Pro Football Focus, all of the 3-4 linebackers who had more sacks than Orakpo last year rushed the quarterback more, some of them a lot more. For example, Mario Williams of the Bills had three more sacks, 14, than Orakpo’s 11 did but he rushed the quarterback 184 more times (547-383) to get them. Tamba Hali of the Chiefs had one more sack than Orakpo while trying to get a sack 117 more times (500-363).

If Orakpo got sacks on the same percentage of his rushes and went after the quarterback as many times as Williams did, Orakpo would have almost 17 sacks.

One side note from here—Haslett seems very confident that he will be coaching Orakpo, who is slated to be a free agent in March. Perhaps Haslett knows that the Redskins are going to keep Orakpo around one way (a contract agreement) or another (franchise tag).

Quick Links

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.