On Brian Orakpo and holding
Remember this image? This was an uncalled sleeper hold applied to Brian Orakpo during a crucial moment of the Texans game, as Houston drove for the tying score. A few days later, I asked Orakpo if he remembered the play.
"No idea," he said. "I'm past that game. I'm past it. I can't even remember right now."
The Pro Bowler seemed surprised at the question, but by Sunday, he was surprised no longer. Redskins blogger Matt Terl asked him the same question about the hands forever clutching his body parts; "guys just keep continuously to hold me out there," Orakpo told him. Indeed, like Albert Haynesworth, he drew two holdings calls last week (see images below), and probably could have drawn more. (The Redskins, by the way, have earned 305 penalty yards this season, third in the NFL.)
"Hand(s) or arm(s) that encircle a defender -- i.e., hook an opponent -- are to be considered illegal and officials are to call a foul for holding," reads the NFL digest of rules. And you've probably heard the NFL cliche that holding could be called 11 times on every play, if officials were so inclined. But gird yourself. You're about to hear it again.
"100 percent," Chris Wilson said, when I asked how many plays involve holding. "They hold in the NFL, period. If you don't get held, you get a sack."
"Honestly, they could probably call it every play if they wanted," Adam Carriker added. "I think they try to call the extreme ones, the ones that are obvious. They've told us, if they're here holding, we're not gonna call it," he said, grabbing his own chest. "You've got to be out [by the side], or you've got to flail and make it obvious."
Do offensive linemen have a different interpretation? Well, sort of.
"I never hold," center Casey Rabach told me. "It's against the rules. Obviously."
"There are plays where you grab a guy, but you just try to stay within the framework of his shoulder pads, and they almost never call that," guard Artis Hicks said. "But on the flip side, as a defensive lineman, a lot of times when we the offensive linemen are trying to work combinations, they reach out and grab us to keep us off linebackers. And that's seldomly called, but it could be called every play. They grab your jersey, shoulder pads, anything they can grab to keep you off the linebackers."
See, the offensive linemen are actually oppressed! The holders are being held! And, in the interest of fairness, is there anything a held player can do to help his cause?
"When I was in St. Louis, I would tell [officials], but they didn't really pay attention," Carriker told me. "[Flailing] does help, but at the same time you're also gambling that they're going to make the call and you're kind of giving yourself up on the play, because if you're flailing, you're not making the play."
What about looking back at officials in a pleading, helpless manner?
"You're looking for something, but most of the time you won't get anything," Andre Carter said. "If they don't see it, they won't call it. You've just got to get there a little bit harder."
Somewhere amid these conversations, it occurred to me that "holding" was possibly not the ideal name for this particular foul. Maybe "Out-Of-Position Holding" would be better. Or "Sleeper-Hold Holding." Or "Offensive Tackling."
"The only time they actually call holding is when you're actually pulling a guy," Wilson agreed. "It's called holding, but it's not for holding or grabbing. They can grab as long as they've got position."
Anyhow, back to the image seen here, the one that wasn't called. A few days later, I asked Orakpo what percentage of plays he's held on.
"Oh, I don't know. I don't keep track of that no more," he said. "It's starting to become a habit. But you've just got to keep working."
Posted by: walkdwalk | October 5, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PowerBoater69 | October 5, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hessone | October 5, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AdamCr | October 5, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: stevie_in_gp | October 5, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bzerante1 | October 5, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Hattrik | October 5, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ronmalibu | October 6, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | October 6, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: notthecrochunter | October 6, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: alex35332 | October 6, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jimmykempski | October 6, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: datruth21 | October 6, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jercha | October 6, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: thedc_kid | October 6, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: playahatah | October 6, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: puzzlehead1 | October 6, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kingpenn1 | October 6, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: j762 | October 6, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jefferu | October 6, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dkessler1 | October 6, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: skins91r | October 6, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Thundershock | October 6, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse