The Redskins hired outside linebackers coach Brian Baker to improve the pass rush, notably Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. He’s teaching them new techniques and harping on a different mindset. What Baker won’t do, he said, is tinker with their coverage skills.
“They are the best covering outside linebackers in this league,” Baker said last month. “I was shocked when I studied film to take the job how good those guys are in coverage.”
Others might disagree, but Baker hasn’t been shy expressing opinions about, for example, their pass-rush skills and what they must do in that area. He said, for example, that a spin move should be a part of Orakpo’s repertoire given his athleticism.
“I know Ryan’s an unbelievable run defender and Rak’s pretty good, too,” Baker said. “They do it in different ways. But in coverage, those guys are ridiculous. In coverage, I’m not messing those two dudes up at all. They are fantastic, both of them.”
Despite the emphasis on the pass rush – and promises from coordinator Jim Haslett of sending them more often -- both Kerrigan and Orakpo still will have coverage responsibilities. In a 3-4, that will never change unless the Redskins always want to rush five. Part of the benefit of the 3-4 is an offense not knowing which outside linebacker will be rushing. So one of them, in a four-man rush from their base package, will have to drop.
Baker also said the focus on improving the pass-rush skills won’t detract from the rest of their games. Again, they have to be all-around players for the defense to work, not just pass rushers.
“Haz and those guys have done such a great job coaching those guys in coverage, they are solid rocks,” Baker said. “They are conscientious, and conscientious guys are good pros, and good pros don’t let one part of their game drop to improve another part.”