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Fletcher: 'You can feel the excitement'

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Fletcher: 'You can feel the excitement'

In summary: Only one thing mattered to 37-year-old London Fletcher following Monday night’s 17-16 victory over the Giants: The Redskins' season remains relevant. 

“Playing meaningful games in December, it’s just a different atmosphere, a different feeling, a different preparation,” Fletcher said after gutting out another game on a gimpy ankle. “You can tell the excitement of the fans, the city. Just coming into the stadium, you saw how many people were out here early, ready for this game.”

Fletcher was asked if he could recall the last time FedEx Field rocked the way it did Monday. 

“This is the loudest I’ve seen FedEx since the Dallas game, the last game [of the] 2007 season,” he said after a moment of contemplation. Fletcher was referring to the Redskins’ wild-card clinching victory over the Cowboys in the 2007 season finale.

With their third consecutive win, the Redskins, at 6-6, have vaulted themselves back into the thick of the NFC East and wild card races. The Giants, meantime, fell to 7-5, while the Cowboys also sit at 6-6 after Sunday’s victory over the Eagles.

If you think about it, if we lose this game, we go down three games to the Giants,” Fletcher said. “It would have been highly unlikely for us to have a chance of winning the division. But now we’re a game back. We just made it very interesting.”

Interesting, indeed. 

Turning point: Early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins found themselves trailing 16-10. But Robert Griffin III directed a methodical, 12-play, 86-yard drive that culminated with an eight-yard Pierre Garçon touchdown reception that put the home team ahead for good. Garçon finished with eight receptions for 106 yards – three yards shy of his season-high.

“We came through when we needed to,” Garçon said. “That’s what a good team does when their back is against the wall.”

Offensive play of the game: Late in the first quarter, Josh Morgan scored his first touchdown of the season in bizarre fashion. The wide receiver was the pitchman on an option when Griffin, tucked the ball and turned up field. Griffin, however, fumbled at the Giants’ 13-yard line, bobbling the ball up in the air – and right into the hands of a streaking Morgan.

“It just bounced my way,” Morgan said laughing. “We game planned the option. We ain’t game-planned for him to do it the way he did it, but he made it happen. It worked out.”

It marked the second time this season a wide receiver recovered a Griffin fumble for a touchdown. In Tampa, Garçon pounced on a loose ball in the end zone.

Defensive play of the game: In the fourth quarter, the Redskins were clinging to a one-point lead when the pass rush finally delivered. Linebacker Rob Jackson sacked Eli Manning for a seven-yard loss at the Giants’ 14-yard line. The sack forced the visitors’ to punt and swung the momentum toward the Redskins for good.

Special teams play of the game: As important as Kai Forbath’s 33-yard field goal in the second quarter proved to be in a one-point victory, the Redskins benefited greatly from Lawrence Tynes missing a 43-yarder a few minutes earlier. Tynes entered the game tied for the league lead in field goals made (29) and was 6 of 7 from 40-49 yards out.

Injury report: Tackle Trent Williams said after the game that his bruised thigh, “felt terrible.” But he played through the pain and helped pave the way for the Redskins’ 207 yards on the ground. 

…Fletcher did not arrive in Landover wearing anything on his sprained left ankle but he left wearing an immobilizer boot. He said he did not reinjure the ankle and that the boot was for precautionary reasons.

…Giants tackle Sean Locklear was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, according to Giants Coach Tom Coughlin.

Quote of the day: Coughlin on his team scoring only three points in the final 30 minutes: “This is not real complicated. I don’t know what happened in the second half. They certainly didn’t come out and play.”

Quote of the day, Part II: Griffin joking about the fumble that resulted in a touchdown: “We’ve already gone through this. It was a pitch to Josh. I knew he was going to be there and I’m going to stay with the story.”

Game ball: Alfred Morris gets it after rushing for a career high 124 yards on 22 carries. With 1,106 yards, he broke the Redskins’ rookie record for rushing yards and moved into a tie with Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin for the league lead among rookies.

“It’s huge,” he said. “So much history here and to be able to do that, it says a lot. It’s a blessing, coming from where I came from. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to make the team. But I made the team. I’ve rushed for 1,000 yards and done a lot of things I didn’t think I was going to be able to do. But I believed in myself. And I have a coach that believes in me, and that makes me push that much harder."

By the numbers: The Redskins became the first team in NFL history to have a rookie pass for 2,000 yards and a rookie rush for 1,000 yards, according to the team.

By the numbers, Part II: The Redskins ended a 10-game losing streak at home on Monday night football. Their last win on MNF was over the Cowboys in Oct. 2007.

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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.

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Need to Know: An early look at first-round draft possibilities for the Redskins

Need to Know: An early look at first-round draft possibilities for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 17, 100 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 44
NFL free agency starts 52
First Sunday of 2017 season 237

A six pack of potential first-round draft picks for the Redskins

We’re at a nice, round 100 days until the NFL draft starts. The deadline for underclassmen to declare has passed and the first of the postseason all-star events, the East-West Shrine game, is starting up this week. It’s time to look at some possibilities for the Redskins’ first-round draft pick, which is No. 17 overall.

We’re still not sure of what defensive scheme the Redskins will run this year but it’s likely that they could fit Stanford DE Solomon Thomas into it. He’s not the classic edge rusher type but he is big (6-2, 275), violent and he can collapse the pocket.

—Michigan S Jabrill Peppers is a top-five pick according to one NFC executive but it’s a little early to put him up that high. He’s a versatile defender and he has drawn comparisons to Troy Polamalu, Charles Woodson, and Tyrann Mathieu. If he’s there at 17 the Redskins might find it hard to resist pulling the trigger.

There has been very early buzz about the Redskins having some interest in Michigan State DL Malik McDowell. He can play end in a 3-4 front or tackle in a 4-3 and provide disruption and pass rush from either spot. The 6-6, 276-lb. McDowell was a top-five prospect on many early boards but he stock has slipped to the point where he could be available for the Redskins.

The upgrade the Redskins are looking for at inside linebacker could be Florida ILB Jarrad Davis. He’s tough, tenacious, smart, and instinctive. The most important part of the combine for him won’t be his 40 time or bench press, it will be the medicals. He has missed some games with assorted injures including a torn meniscus in 2014.

Another flexible linebacker who could help inside in a 3-4 or outside in a 4-3 is Vanderbilt LG Zach Cunningham. At 6-3, 230 he plays very well in space and he shows a great ability to take on blockers. He needs work on tackling and pass rushing techniques but he has the tools to be an impact defender very quickly.

Although a defender would be a popular and logical pick here, the Redskins could go off script. After the 2015 draft, it was reported that Scot McCloughan might have taken Todd Gurley if he had been able to trade back from No. 5 overall to a little later in the first round. So I think it would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of him going with an offensive skill player such as Florida State RB Dalvin Cook if he’s on the board and McCloughan has him rated as the best available player.

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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.