When the Redskins drafted Keenan Robinson in the fourth round last month, they were doing what worked for them just two years ago.In the 2010 draft, they tabbed LSU outside linebacker Perry Riley in the fourth round. He played on the outside for the Tigers but the Redskins had him pegged to succeed Rocky McIntosh, a pending free agent, on the inside next to London Fletcher. After playing just a handful of snaps on defense as a rookie, Riley took over the starting job from McIntosh midway through last season and, while he is still learning, he appears to be set for a long run at the position.After signing the 37-year-old Fletcher to a two-year deal, one that presumably will be the last contract of his career, the Redskins got down to business with succession planning at his position. They saw the athletic ability and versatility they are looking for at the position in Robinson, who played both inside and outside linebacker at Texas.I try to play tough between the tackles. Im good in pass coverage, thats another element I bring to my game, and I feel like I can play sideline to sideline, said Robinson after the Redskins rookie minicamp concluded on Sunday.Although he believes he has some game, he realizes that being in the NFL is a different game altogether. I feel like Im a freshman starting out again and Ill just have to work my way all the way back up, he said.If he didnt realize that before, he did when the Redskins gave him their sizeable defensive playbook. Yes, it was about a triple cheeseburger worth, Robinson said with a smile.Robinsons approach to learning the playbook was similar to how he might eat that triple cheeseburgerone bite at a time.Once you get the concepts down with the defense you can pick it up real quickly, he said. Once you just get the concepts and the terminology everything else kind of flows from there.Robinson was teammates with current Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo at Texas and he said that he has watched a lot of Redskins games because of that. He plans on learning a lot from Orakpo and from the man he could replace in 2014.Im going to be right there, trying to learn everything I can from the Fletcher especially since hes one of those guys who have done it for so long and able to play injury free, said Robinson. So Im going to learn everything I can from him and use his advice to my advantage.
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.