Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: dcsportsbog and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Redskins and Sports  |  RSS

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."

By Dan Steinberg  | October 5, 2010; 5:21 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gilbert Arenas, through the years
Next: Wizards celebrate last-second win


Please keep this as a running commentary throughout the season, and send a link to that Mike Periera dude while you're at it. Orakpo must be the most loved player in the NFL, because these offensive line jokers just can't keep their hands off of him. Pause.

Posted by: walkdwalk | October 5, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

When my Manley jersey starts to age I'm getting an Orakpo next.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | October 5, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

is it me or my selective dyslexia, but the name barno reminds me of the circus

Posted by: hessone | October 5, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Poor Jason Peters, getting sonned like that. Once Rak starts getting the calls, which he will, it's gonna get quite prolific out here.

Posted by: AdamCr | October 5, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

STARTS to age?

If a Manley jersey hasn't aged yet, Rak's gonna have to wait a while . . .

(or is my snark meter just set too low?)

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | October 5, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

i'm sure glad this guy is covering TE's and RB's instead of rushing the QB every play.

Posted by: bzerante1 | October 5, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

great post Dan, interesting stuff, it's a hot topic.

Posted by: Hattrik | October 5, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Jason Peters was all like, "Ocrapko!"

Posted by: ronmalibu | October 6, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Holding offsets a good pass rush; if opponents didn't hold, Skins might be leading league in sacks. But, They do so we don't. These things even out over the course of the season, though.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | October 6, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

STARTS to age?

If a Manley jersey hasn't aged yet, Rak's gonna have to wait a while . . .

(or is my snark meter just set too low?)

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | October 5, 2010 9:49 PM |

I think they rereleased the Manley jersey a couple of years ago

Posted by: notthecrochunter | October 6, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

The re-released the Manly jersey a few months ago.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 6, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

For the record, Dan, Jason Peters was called twice for holding on Orakpo,and he was definitely called for holding in the picture where you can see that 5:39 was on the clock in the background. From the play-by-play on

2-8-WAS 42 (5:42) (Shotgun) PENALTY on PHI-71-J.Peters, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at WAS 42 – No Play.

Posted by: jimmykempski | October 6, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I remember that photo from the Texans game, if Orakpo wasn't held on that play that was a pure sack.

He should've had 4-5 sacks if not for those holding calls (the ones called and those that were bypassed) I think its retarded, He's a Pro-Bowler, Like Ware and Freeney, refs need to focus on Orakpo when he's rushing, they always see an obvious hold if not a sleeper hold on him

He's too strong for a lot of OL. Fat Albert needs to get all that double team so Rak can rack up on sacks and destroy Rodgers this Sunday

HTTR! Skins 24 Packers 17 Book It!

Posted by: datruth21 | October 6, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Looking at the Texan photo. Orakpo should elbow the dude in the stomach.

Posted by: jercha | October 6, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

If they're holding Orakpo on every play but they only call some of the holds, yet Orakpo uses the same speed rush move... wouldn't it seem logical for Orakpo to use more than just the speed rush to beat his defender? Take the refs out of the equation and get the job done!

Posted by: thedc_kid | October 6, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

As much as I hate this team, I have to admit that Orakpo is a beast and the only way to stop him is to hold him.

I look forward to the day when Orakpo's contract is up and Snyder jerks him around and lets him go to another team in favor of an aging Mario Williams, Dwight Freeney, Osi Umenyiora, et. al. (don't believe me? Look up Brian Mitchell, Antonio Pierce, Champ Bailey, Laveranues Coles, etc.).

Posted by: playahatah | October 6, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

He should learn aikido.

Posted by: puzzlehead1 | October 6, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Orakpo needs to consult Bruce Smith or Dexter Manley to get some tips on preventing being held or breaking the hold.

Posted by: kingpenn1 | October 6, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I've played o-line. if you're afraid to hold, you're too timid to be an effective player. it happens. you try not to be obvious. but given that the decision is between an unlikely penalty call and a very likely jamming up of the play or a possible fumble, you do what you have to in order to keep the dude in front of you off your playmakers.

Posted by: j762 | October 6, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Brian Orakpo... They love him that much

Posted by: jefferu | October 6, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Every good pass rusher gets held, that's just the way it is..I hate the whinning. Keep at it and the holding will come...

Posted by: Dkessler1 | October 6, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Holding probably could be called on every play, but lets be real how fun would it be to watch a 4 plus hour game that is one penalty after the next?

Another penalty that happens all the time but is rarely called is the illegal block in the back. You'll see it on every return throughout a game.

Posted by: skins91r | October 6, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

What's the point of having a rule if you're only going to selectively enforce it????

Posted by: Thundershock | October 6, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company