A season ago, Dezmon Briscoe was a young NFL player whose career was on the rise.Right now, hes just trying to land a job.Briscoe caught six touchdown passes for the Buccaneers in 2011, but was waived late last month after reportedly failing a conditioning test. Twenty-four hours later, the 22-year-old found himself on the Redskins, hoping to snag one of the final spots.Once you get cut, you want to prove that the other team was wrong as well as everybody that feels that this guy slacked off in the offseason and is out of shape, which is not true at all, he said this week. I guess I wasnt fitting in their program and they made their decision. Im okay with it. Im just trying to seize my opportunity now.Asked about his goals for the upcoming season, Briscoe was humble.Big break out year? he said, shrugging. I dont want to go that far with it. Right now Im just trying to make the team and get a job.Although Briscoe was not targeted in the Redskins preseason-opening victory in Buffalo, he has impressed Coach Mike Shanahan with his playmaking ability in practice. Secondary coach Raheem Morris, who was the Bucs head coach last season, likely played a role in convincing Shanahan to take a chance on Briscoe.You can see he is a football player, Shanahan said. He has made plays throughout training camp and practice, and he will get a chance.That chance could arrive Saturday in Chicago. And, if it does, Briscoe said hes had enough time to familiarize himself with Shanahans offense and will be ready.My comfort level is very high, Briscoe said of learning the Redskins offense on a truncated schedule. I go out there confident, knowing that I know what to do and put good stuff on film.Coaches are critiquing everything, whether its a key block or a big catch, he added. Youre just trying to do the little things to surprise the coaches.Briscoe is battling Anthony Armstrong, Brandon Banks, Aldrick Robinson and Terrence Austin for the final two spots on the Redskins roster at wide receiver. The others also contribute on special teams; Briscoe does not. Which means the Texas native must prove himself to be a superior pass-catcher in order to claim a spot.Two things are working in Briscoes favor: at 6 foot 2, 210 pounds, hes bigger than his competition, and he caught more touchdowns last season than the others have combined in their careers.I think my height is probably my biggest thing, Briscoe said. Me and Leonard Hankerson are the biggest receivers we have. So that helps me out a lot.After having a limited role against the Bills, Briscoe knows hes got to start showing what he can do in games. But hes not sweating it yet.We got three games left, he said. I still got a little more playing time this preseason. Thats my opportunity and I have to take advantage of it.
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.
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.
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.