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Can the Redskins ambush the Packers?

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Can the Redskins ambush the Packers?

Last year, the Redskins went into New Orleans armed with an offensive game plan that the Saints didn’t know was coming. Robert Griffin III and his offensive teammates ambushed the Saints, who had won 13 games and the NFC South the year before, and walked out with an impressive 40-32 win.

On Sunday, the Redskins go to Green Bay to meet the Packers, who won 11 games in 2012 and took the NFC North. Can they do to the Packers what they did to the Saints?

Yes, it’s the second game of the season and not the opener. And it’s the second year of playing with Griffin at quarterback and despite the issues with his surgically repaired knee, there should still be many of the Pistol formation and read option elements present.

But the Redskins almost certainly retooled their offense between the playoff loss to the Seahawks in the playoffs and the season opener against the Eagles since they need to stay a step ahead of defenses that studied all season to try to stop their attack. And, as Kyle Shanahan told us, they didn’t show much of that new offense against the Eagles.

The Redskins managed to run just 24 plays before they were down 33-7. “No, we really never got to do our game plan, to tell you the truth,” the team’s offensive coordinator said. “We had some stuff in there early, but it wasn’t just that that we didn’t get to do, we didn’t get to do about 90 percent of our game plan. It turned into a two-minute drill pretty fast.”

If the Redskins can avoid a start similar to the fumble-interception-safety fiasco they had on Monday, they should be able to utilize their offensive game plan, one that was kept under wraps against the Eagles.

It won’t be the exact same plan, of course. But both the Eagles and the Packers run 3-4 defenses so there will be elements that will be the same.

And regardless, whatever tweaks and wrinkles that Kyle and Mike Shanahan and the rest of the offense came up with over the spring and summer almost certainly remained under wraps. So the Packers haven’t seen them yet.

Football games are decided by players and no nifty X’s and O’s will help if Griffin is still working his way through adjusting to his reconstructed knee. But if Griffin can operate at close to the efficiency he did a year ago, the Redskins could surprise a Packers defense that gave up over 400 yards passing to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers last week.

This week’s other key factors:

—Rodgers was sacked 51 times last year and twice against the 49ers last week. Brian Orakpo will be going up against left tackle David Bakhtiari for much of the day. He is a rookie who the Packers drafted in the fourth round. That could provide an opportunity for Orakpo to get after Rodgers some although Bakhtiari did do a good job pass blocking last week.

—Clay Matthews will try to get after Griffin. Trent Williams will be his primary matchup and you have to like the Redskins’ chances in that battle. Matthews may beat Williams a time or two but he shouldn’t be a constant presence in Griffin’s face. Besides Matthews there isn’t another big-time pass rushing threat. Mathews had 13 last year; next hightest total belonged to Mike Neal with 4.5.

—The Packers have won 29 of their last 31 games at Lambeau Field. The have lost three in a row to the new-generation mobile quarterbacks (four if you count Andrew Luck, who can scramble and run some). We’ll have to see if the mobile QB thing outweighs the home field thing.

This is a tall task for the Redskins. Rodgers is simply one of the best in the business and he could feast on a Redskins secondary that is still finding its way. If the Redskins can score in the mid 30’s somewhere they have a good shot. But I don’t think they will.

Packers 31, Redskins 21

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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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Award Tour: JP & Tandler select Redskins Offensive Player of the Year

Award Tour: JP & Tandler select Redskins Offensive Player of the Year

With the 2017 offseason about to kick into high gear, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler are going to take one last look at 2016 in the coming days. That’s right, it’s time to hand out awards for Coach of the Year, Special Teams Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year.

We’ve picked our top coaches and the Special Teams. and defensive POY’s. Today we select the Offensive Player of the Year.

Tandler: I don’t see any need to overthink this. The Redskins set a team record for total offensive yards in a season and it was mostly due to the play of Kirk Cousins. He shattered his own team records in nearly every major passing stat. He was a steady hand as the line underwent some turmoil with the suspension of Trent Williams and injury situations. His primary running backs were a fumble-prone second-year player and an undrafted rookie. The team’s best pass catcher, tight end Jordan Reed, missed four games with injuries and he was obviously hampered by a shoulder injury in a few others. Cousins did slump towards the end of the season and the interception he threw late in the season finale killed off the Redskins’ playoff chances. But he was the one primarily responsible for the team posting winning record in consecutive seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years.

More Redskins: Early first-round draft possibilities

Finlay: I kinda wanted to overthink this but Tandler yelled at me. DeSean Jackson was arguably the Redskins best threat, and Pierre Garçon was the most dependable player on the team. Jordan Reed showed how great he can be, but injuries limited his performance. In the end, the award goes to Kirk Cousins. It has to. The guy nearly threw for 5,000 yards and he broke his own passing record that he set last season. What happens before the March 1 franchise deadline not withstanding, Cousins was the 'Skins best offensive player in 2016.

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