Brian Orakpo is not a fan of the NFL’s rules protecting quarterbacks as they are today.
That’s why he’s calling for change.
After the Houston Texans 17-6 win at NRG Stadium on Sunday, the Washington linebacker said he thinks the league should consider making roughing the passer penalties reviewable by instant replay, to make sure game-changing 15-yard penalties don’t negate good, clean plays.
“Maybe we should start reviewing those types of hits,” Orakpo said. “Because those are real momentum type plays. Maybe we should review them and see where the target initially is.”
Two flags for hits on quarterbacks flew on Sunday. One on Washington defensive end Jarvis Jenkins for a hit on Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Another on safety D.J. Swearinger for tagging quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The flag on Swearinger came on a failed third down play for Washington on Houston’s 14 yard line, with the Texans holding only a 14-6 lead early in the third quarter. Instead of a fourth down, and likely field goal attempt, Washington was given a fresh set of downs in what was at the time a one-score game.
Houston escaped in the end. On the very next play, Swearinger forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end J.J. Watt on their own 9 yard line, helping cement a lead the Texans wouldn’t relinquish.
But it was close to being very much the game-changing type of call Orakpo described.
“Even the one for the Texans I thought wasn’t even a dirty hit,” Orakpo said.
The penalty on Jones, meanwhile, proved costly. Instead of second-and-10 from the Houston 22, the chains moved to the 37. The Texans parlayed the momentum swing into a 13 play, 68 yard drive that chewed up over six minutes and ended in a field goal that made it a two-score game.
“It’s tough man,” Orakpo said. “Because you’re fighting so hard, and you get into situations where you don’t really know where to, how to target the quarterback at times.”
Safety Ryan Clark, a 13-year veteran making his Washington debut on Sunday, agreed with Orakpo, saying the league’s roughing the passer rules are hard on defensive players.
But Clark said it can’t be an excuse.
“That’s just part of the game now,” Clark said. “You have to adjust to it. You have to do what you can to play within the rules.
“They got a bad call I feel like on Swearinger, and they definitely had a bad one on us. But you play through those things. They played through them, and made plays. We didn’t play through them and make the plays we needed to make.”
Orakpo, now in his 7th season, said he gets where the NFL is trying to do, but can’t help but feel frustrated by the results. To the point where he wants to see changes made.
“I understand where the league is going,” Orakpo said. “But I wish we had a replay for it, because it seemed pretty clean to me. But that’s just my opinion.”
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