Mike Shanahan insisted on installing a 3-4 defense last season because he wanted the Washington Redskins to force more turnovers and make more game-changing plays.
So when linebacker Brian Orakpo ran unblocked at Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton last Sunday but didn’t force him to fumble, the sack was bittersweet. It basically amounted to a 7-yard loss. The Panthers kept the ball and kicked a field goal in a game they won by 13.
“I know you want to secure the tackle on the big [quarterback], but any time you come free on the quarterback, you want to chop the ball if you can,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “He knows that. He thought he could have jarred it out when he hit him.”
Orakpo admitted he wasn’t thinking about forcing a fumble.
“In my mindset,” he said, “you want to get the guy down.”
He and Haslett separately noted that Orakpo is left-handed. Hacking down with his right hand on a quarterback’s grip on the ball is unnatural, and it’s one reason stripping the ball escapes his mind when he’s rushing.
“The technique is not quite there yet,” he said. “As I progress, it will get better. If I was coming on the left, this is easy all day.”
“When you’re coming that open, that free, you just really want to get the guy down,” he said. “If you get a sack and then you’re able to get another one, that’s when you’re able to kind of realize, OK, I’m going to go for the ball this time. I don’t know. It’s kind of tricky, man.”
Beck has room to improve
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said he believes quarterback John Beck did “a good job” but also missed some opportunities to extend drives in Beck’s first start last Sunday.
Shanahan explained one of Beck’s reads that the Fox broadcasters criticized — an incompletion to Jabar Gaffney on a slant from the left. Anthony Armstrong was open on the right side of the field, but Beck didn’t see him.
“You have a concept on two sides,” Shanahan said. “Pre-snap, you’ve got to pick the side that looks best, and you go off of percentages based off of one side compared to the other. He took the single safety concept - looking one way [to the left].”
• Cornerback DeAngelo Hall (hip), left tackle Trent Williams (right ankle) and fullback Mike Sellers (back) did not practice. Sellers hurt himself doing a rowing exercise in the weight room before practice and was taken to the hospital.