People are blasting Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, and heaping praise on fellow outsider linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.....and for good reason. Ryan Kerrigan has 6.5 sacks, and is playing at an All-Pro level, while Orakpo continues to get held, get injured, and drop easy interceptions, all while being paid like one of the top defenders in the NFL.
Shouldn't Ryan Kerrigan be the one bringing home the big pay check?
Not so fast my friend...
Ryan Kerrigan is playing well, and deserves the praise he's receiving, but let's look at the comparisons between the two players.
Brian Orakpo has been dealing with two injuries this season. He has been fighting a sprained ankle for three weeks, and is playing with a broken bone in his hand. On the season, he has 23 tackles, half a sack, one pass defended, and has been held 22 times, with just 5 being called(this stat is NOT official). Also, teams tend to run more to the right side than the left, so overall compared to Kerrigan, his number of tackles(especially when you take into account some game action he's missed due to injury)is not all that bad.
Ryan Kerrigan has 25 tackles, 6.5 sacks, one pass defended and two forced fumbles. He's known for his relentless motor, durability, and lead-by-example mentality. He's off to the best start of his career, and shows no signs of slowing.
Here is the issue though.
Brian Orakpo is up against the left tackle, while Ryan Kerrigan is playing against the much less talented right tackle. The issue of playing against a right tackle vs. a left tackle might not seem like such a big thing to the average fan, but let me help you put this into perspective. Imagine playing an entire game against Tyler Polumbus on one side of the line, and having your counterpart playing the entire game against Trent Williams!
Again, because this is worth repeating: One guy goes against the Tyler Polumbus' of the NFL, while the other plays against the Trent Williams'!........even in practice!
Left Tackles Orakpo has faced:
Houston - Duane Brown(1st round pick - 2x Pro Bowl selection, 2x All-Pro)
Jacksonville - Luke Joeckel(1st round pick #2 overall)
Eagles - Jason Peters(6x Pro Bowl selection, 5x All-Pro)
Giants - Will Beatty(2nd round pick)
Seahawks - Russell Okung(1st round pick - Pro Bowl selection)
Cardinals - Jared Veldheer(3rd round pick - top free agent acquisition)
Right Tackles Kerrigan has faced:
Houston - Derek Newton(7th round pick)
Jacksonville - Sam Young(6th round pick)/Austin Pasztor(undrafted)
Eagles - Andrew Gardner(6th round pick)
Giants - Justin Pugh(1st round pick)
Seahawks - Justin Britt(2nd round pick - rookie)
Cardinals - Bobby Massie(4th round pick)
Are we being fair when comparing Orakpo to Kerrigan?