The Washington Redskins' prospects just took an irreparable hit.
Losing two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker to season-ending injuries during an ugly 31-28 loss at St. Louis on Sunday has Washington on survival mode before the home opener.
There's simply no replacing Orakpo, the team's best defensive player. Chris Wilson and Rob Jackson are both decent players, but they are a huge drop-off from Orakpo and the amount of havoc he generates. Indeed, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan just probably saw his season's sack total cut in half as offenses now can concentrate more on his side.
The worst part is Orakpo has torn his pectoral muscle twice in the last three regular-season games. It wasn't the exact same injury he suffered at the end of last season, but his pectoral will probably plague him the rest of his career.
Orakpo is under contract one more year with Washington. It's going to be an interesting dilemma for the Redskins should Orakpo get hurt again next year.
To replace Carriker, who tore a quad tendon in his right knee, maybe Jarvis Jenkins will show some of that 2011 training camp play that excited everyone before he was injured. Unfortunately, Jenkins hasn't done much this season, often not getting low enough in his stance to generate enough push. He has to wake up and produce right now. At best, the Redskins won't lose much with Jenkins replacing Carriker.
The Redskins (1-1) might have been a wild-card team this season with some luck. Well, a lot of luck, but it was possible given rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III opened with two strong games.
But the loss to a mediocre St. Louis team showed the defense that allowed 32 points to New Orleans and then 31 to the Rams isn't better. Counting last season, the Redskins have allowed 30 or more points in four straight games and six of seven. Now take away the leading player plus a starting lineman and things can and likely will get much worse.
The secondary tremendously relies on the pass pressure by the front seven. Given the many top passers the Redskins soon will face, and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning's 510-yard passing performance on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay might become common against Washington.
This season is really about readying Griffin for 2013 when the fourth year under coach Mike Shanahan is supposed to finally yield a contender. But shootout losses can have an aggravating mental impact on a roster. We'll see how Griffin handles losing. He's probably too young to sour so quickly and turn into another Jeff George, but the Redskins need him to weather a lackluster season and come out ready to further lead the team over the offseason.
For now, the Redskins will struggle to get by each week. Too bad there are 14 games to go.