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How Good Is Brian Orakpo, Really?

As the Washington Redskins prepare to face the Dallas Cowboys this weekend, the question posed in this headline has been brought up a lot in light of this pretty stunning statistic.

Since 2009, no Washington Redskins player has recorded more sacks than outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. In 2-1/2 seasons, the Texas product has 25 sacks (11 as a rookie, 8.5 last season and 5.5 through nine games this season).

The only problem: Of those 25 sacks, only half a sack has come in his 15 games against divisional opponents. The other 24.5 sacks have come against teams outside the NFC East.

It also brings up a larger issue that kind of bugs me as a Redskins fan who wants Orakpo to be elite.

From John Keim's latest newsletter, as seen on Mister Irrelevant:

Orakpo remains a work in progress as a pass rusher, but the coaches still believe he’ll be a guy capable of 14 sacks. After last season Orakpo talked about adding more moves, but in reality what he’s done is learned how to rush inside the tackle better. He’s not someone who bases his game off moves. “Move are overrated,” he said. “That’s always been my game, reacting off what the tackle gives me. I’m always a guy that’s point A to point B. I’m not in my mind thinking I’m going to do this move. It’s never been like that.”

This mirrors what he told our Daniel Shiferaw in the preseason:

"That [criticism] is nonsense," he says calmly. "I just go out there and play my game. If that's one move and they can't stop it, then so be it. I'm not really not a guy that going to have a whole huge arsenal of moves. I just kind of keep it real simple and just try to play my game."

Now, here we are, more than halfway through Orakpo's third season, and his growth as a pass rusher seems to have plateaued. There are far bigger problems facing the Redskins right now, but this definitely at least qualifies as a minor annoyance.