When former Washington Redskins outside linebacker, Brian Orakpo visited Tennessee Titans headquarters on Wednesday, it was expected to be an in-and-out affair, with the three-time, All Pro out of Texas moving on to his next stop with the Arizona Cardinals.
Bear Goggles On
The Living Legend
Some speculated that former teammate, Titan Safety, Michael Griffin was assigned to keep the former first-round draft pick, in the building, but it was a chance to work with the “Living Legend”, Dick LeBeau that got his name on a Titans contract.
"“The living legend himself came in the room and we just talked football,” Orakpo said of LeBeau, “and the things we’ll be doing, an X-and-O type of deal. It just felt like a great fit. Now I’ll be in the same room as those guys I used to admire and watch and try to pattern my game after and be coached by these guys. That had a lot to do with my overall decision. It would have been easy to go to a contender like Arizona or the Colts."
Brian Orakpo worked with Titans linebacker coach, Joe Spanos five years ago in Washington, and recalls sitting in meeting rooms with Spanos, discussing the Pittsburgh defense, and how they were trying to run the same 3-4 scheme.
ESPN Titans reporter, Paul Kuharsky reported that during the Midday 180 radio show in Nashville, Orakpo said:
“We watched Pittsburgh film day in, day out. That was Dick LeBeau’s defense that we were trying to emulate.
"“I’m very, very familiar with the scheme of things, the way he brings pressure, the way he attacks different style offenses by game plan. I’m extremely excited to go in and be coached by Ray Horton and also the living legend himself. That’s what I call him, the living legend.”"
Brian Orakpo signed a four-year deal on Friday with the Tennessee Titans, and ESPN reporter, John Keim, says the deal is worth $35 million, with $13.5 million guaranteed.
Brian Orakpo was a first-round pick by the Washington Redskins in 2009. He made three Pro Bowls, and finished up his time in Washington, with 40 sacks. In the first four in D.C. he recorded 38.5 of his 40 sacks, recording 11 in his rookie season.
In 2013, he recorded seven sacks in the final seven games.
"“I loved my time in D.C., everyone knows that,” Orakpo said. “But I was so disappointed, not only in the way we performed, but also the way I went out with the injury bug. It was disheartening to me and the fans and everyone who wanted to see me perform at the highest level. The injury bug really set me back.”"
At the end of the day, even though the Redskins wanted him back for the 2015 season, Orakpo felt it was time for a change, and it was time to move on.
"“He wanted me on board, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to leave yet,” Orakpo said. “I believe in his system. I love what Jay brings to the table. I had a good relationship with Bruce Allen and Dan. That’s never going to change, and I know Jay will do a phenomenal job and turn it around sooner than later. Once everyone buys in and they get more pieces here, those guys will really excel.”"
Philadelphia Eagles head coach, Chip Kelly said it best on Thursday, when talking about his aquisition of quarterback, Sam Bradford. If he wasn’t injured, we would not have a chance at picking him up through free agency.
Let’s face it, NFL free agency is a lot about salary cap, and business, but it still boils down to players being on the UFA lists because of a reason. Whether it’s under-performing, or injuries, they are there for a reason, and it’s always, “buyer beware”
Brian Orakpo’s injury problems started with a pectorial tear, and he has had three since 2012. The last one came against the Tennessee Titans last year, and sidelined him for the majority of the season.
During an interview with NFL_AM he said he had identified a problem with his stretching routine, and hopes the problem can be fixed during his warm-up routine.
"“I’m fully healthy now. I’ll be ready to rock and roll once it’s all said and done,” Orakpo said. “I’m working extremely diligently and hard to kind of prevent it from happening again, with different exercising and changing up my whole offseason regimen.”"
I won’t sugar-coat it here, these types of injuries are very slow to heal. It’s not an injury that you can play through, and still be effective as an outside rusher.
If Brian Orakpo can stay healthy, he is an excellent find for the Tennessee Titans. With the impending draft possibly bringing USC DE, Leonard Williams to Music City, and the return of Derrick Morgan, I think the box is set.
There are a couple more holes in the defensive backfield to fill, and it’s on to fixing the offense.