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Cofield: Rak makes the whole defense better

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Cofield: Rak makes the whole defense better

RICHMOND—All of the talk about the return of Brian Orakpo after he missed 14 games last season has centered on how much his presence will help Ryan Kerrigan. If Orakpo can play as well as he has in the past, or even better, that should help draw attention away from Kerrigan and allow him to realize his potential going into this third NFL season.

There also has been mention of how an improved pass rush could help the secondary, which is either retooling or revamping, work through its issues.

Barry Cofield recognizes the benefits that Orakpo can provide Kerrigan and the secondary but he brings up another area where Rak can help.

“It’s great to have ‘Rak back, you know, and I think ‘Rak being back makes Ryan better, makes [Stephen] Bowen better, makes the secondary better,” said the Redskins’ nose tackle in a sideline interview during Thursday’s game in Tennessee. “We all work together.”

Cofield brings up the line and the numbers tell the story there. In 2011 with Orakpo playing 16 games the defensive line combined for 18 sacks. Last year, without Orakpo and end Adam Carriker (5.5 sacks in 2011) the line’s sack total dropped to 3.5.

Carriker is on the PUP list and he could miss a substantial chunk of the season, if not all of it. And there is danger is assigning cause and effect to Orakpo’s presence and the line’s sack total. But, as Cofield said, the defense works as a unit and the ripple effects of the absence of a player of caliber of Orakpo flow through the defense.

It’s not like Orakpo will be the panacea for all that ailed the Redskins’ 28th-ranked defense last year. But if he does come back and play “like a hungry wild animal” as Cofield says he will, all levels of the defense will benefit.

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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. 

Related: NFL Mock Draft 1.0

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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.