As Brian Orakpo prepares to play against an NFC East opponent for the 16th time in his two and a half year career, an odd stat has started to make the rounds. In his 15 previous games against the division, Orakpo has posted only half of one sack. That came last year against Philadelphia.
In his 25 career games against teams outside of the division he has 24.5 sacks, an average of just about one a game. But against the division he doesn’t get it done in the sack department.
On closer examination, though, maybe the stat isn’t so odd. In order to rack up sacks in a game, it helps to have your team leading in the game. If your team leads by a lot, that makes it that much easier to rare back and rush the passer.
The Redskins have not fared very well against the NFC East since the Redskins drafted him in 2009. They are 3-12 in the division since Orakpo has been with the team and the games really haven’t been close. The Redskins losses to the Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants have been by an average score of 27-15. Washington’s biggest lead in those 15 division games has been 14 points and they had it twice.
In 2010 they scored touchdowns on their first two possessions in Philadelphia to take a 14-0 lead. The Eagles chipped away at that lead in the second quarter and it was a one-score contest by halftime. The Redskins had to survive a Jason Avant drop of a Hail Mary pass at the end to hang on for the win. Then earlier this year, the Redskins broke open their game with the Giants by taking a 28-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
So Orakpo has not had much of a chance to let loose against the division. He has shown what he can do in games when his team has the lead. In one of the few laughers he has played in, Orakpo got four sacks as the Redskins thumped the Raiders 34-13. Earlier this year he turned up the heat as the Redskins took a 17-0 lead over the Rams and posted 2.5 sacks.
Regardless of the score, however, you would think that a great pass rusher would be able to stumble into a few sacks over the course of 15 games. As a team, the Redskins have 18 sacks in those games so there have been opportunities for their top sack master to round up a few of them.
Orakpo has three more chances to up his sack total in the division this year. Perhaps the Redskins offense, which has scored four touchdowns in the last five games, can start to click and give him a hand.