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).