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Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out


Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out

Checking out the latest enemy intelligence on the Redskins next opponent, Da Bears...Cutler, Forte set for preseason debuts: After sitting out the Bears opener last week against the Broncos, Chicago's starting quarterback Jay Cutlerand all-everything running back Matt Forte will take to the field for the first time this preseason Saturday against the Redskins. Don't expect offensivecreativity to join them."Were going to keep things pretty basic," said Cutler, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "What we unroll against the Redskins isnt the final product. We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to execute plays. But its not going to be the end of the world if were not clicking on all cylinders."The Bears went 7-3 last season with Cutler under center, buta broken thumb ended his season with six game remaining. Without thenot-so cuddly signal caller, who cut down on his turnovers and performed more as heady leader compared to his tempestuous past, Chicago lost five of its final six games and missed the postseason. As for why Cutler missed Bears' most recent game, the birth of his first child came the day before.Chicago's leading rusher and receiver last year, Forte will also make his preseason debut after acting only as an observer last week - a role he also performed throughout much of the season due to a contract squabble. Without the 26-year-old all-purpose back in the lineup against the Broncos, the Bears totaled 36 yards on 21 carries. Free agent Michael Bush brings additional firepower to Chicago's ground game this season.And when Cutler sits...: Former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is expected to take over. Though it's still a little surprising the now 30-year-old (wow, 30!) could not land either a starting job or a scenario where he could find move into the lineup without an injury occurring elsewhere, the Bears are certainly better off for with his presence. Campbell, who signed a one-year, 3.5 million deal this offseason, completed 4 of 5 passes for 13 yards against Denver last week.Protecting the offensive line: The group of blockers expected to keep Cutler upright often had their quarterback running for his life last season. Part of new offensive coordinator Mike Tice's attempt at helping the leaky situation? Eliminate all seven-step drops from the Bears passing game and go with three and five step kind. That means rather than simply relying on hiscannon of a passing arm,Cutler now must engage in quicker mental gymnastics to find targets. That in itself is a new dynamic, but one that should helplimitthe hits and sacks.It also should help Tice gets some Z's. After the Denver loss, Tice joked (I think) the team's offensive line woes "causes him to have trouble sleeping at night."The dicey left tackle situation alone surely leads to insomnia. Tice indicated this week the Bears intend on keeping a tight end on the line next to incumbent and suspect starter J'Marcus Webb and challenger Chris Williams in order to fend off the Redskins outside pass rush led by Brian Orakpo. No Urlacher: The one Chicago defender everyone knows underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, taking Brian Urlacher out not just for the Redskins game, but the entire preseason. Optimistically the Bears are hoping the perennial Pro Bowl middle linebacker will return for the September 9 opener against Indianapolis. (Chicago Sun-Times).Fantasy focus: Brandon Marshall's reunion with Cutler, his former teammate with the Broncos, provides the Bears with their best wide receiver threat in years. Perhaps as interesting is what's going on at the other receiver role where big-bodied rookie Alshon Jeffery is making a run at the starting spot opposite Marshall. The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder caught four passes in the preseason opener and has been a practice standout throughout the summer. With or without the Week 1 starting job, Jeffery is a fantasy sleeper that should go off the board in the later rounds.

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 


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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

The Redskins have interviewed some high-profile candidates for their open defensive coordinator position. When it was reported that they will meet with former Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, the reaction among the fans was, “Who?”

Let’s take a look at what Tarver’s qualifications are to get the job of running the Redskins’ defense.

Before becoming a coordinator: At the age of 22, Tarver took a coaching job at West Valley College in California, and did that while earning his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Santa Clara. After that he was a graduate assistant at UCLA for three years before getting into the NFL in 2001, when the 49ers hired him as a quality control coach. Tarver worked his way up to outside linebackers coach in 2005 and did that job until 2010, when he was let go went Mike Singletary was fired as the head coach. After a year as the defensive coordinator at Stanford, Dennis Allen hired Tarver to run the Raiders defense in 2012.

More Redskins: Early first-round draft possibilities

Note: If you want more complete stats on Tarver’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2012 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,672 (18th), points 443 (28th), takeaways 19 (26th), 3rd down 39.1% (20th), DVOA 12.5% 29th
Notable players: DT Richard Seymour, DE Lamarr Houston

It should be noted that Allen had a defensive background so he had a hand in these numbers. This team just wasn’t very good as indicated by the fact that Seymour, at age 33, was one of their best defensive players.

2013 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,918 (22nd), points 453 (29th), takeaways 22 (21st), 3rd down 43.1% (28th), DVOA 10.3% (26th)
Notable players: S Charles Woodson

They did make an effort to shore up the defense by bringing back Woodson and drafting cornerback D.J. Hayden in the first round. But Hayden only played in eight games and Woodson could only contribute so much at age 37. The pass defense struggled, ranking 29th in DVOA.

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

2014 Raiders (3-13)

Rankings: 5,721 (21st), points 452 (32nd), takeaways 14 (30th), 3rd down 38.5% (14th), DVOA 6.3% (26th)
Notable players: LB Khalil Mack, S Woodson

Allen was fired after an 0-4 start and Tony Sparano took over as interim head coach the rest of the way. Sparano has an offensive background so perhaps Tarver is more fully accountable for these results than those in other seasons. They did draft Mack with the fifth overall pick but his impact as a rookie was limited as recorded four sacks. Hayden again missed half of the season and, again, the defense was near the bottom of the NFL.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.