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Is a blowout in the air?

Is a blowout in the air?

When the Washington Redskins embarked on this stretch of three "easy" games, the one that was supposed to carry them to 7-1 at midseason, I wasn't buying it. My thinking was that in the three games there would be a loss, a close win, and a blowout win.

We got the loss against the Rams and the close win against the Browns. Is there a Motown blowout in the offing as the Redskins visit the Lions?

A simple look at the statistics would lead one to believe that a blowout win for the Skins is a distinct possibility. The Redskins are a top-ten defense and the Lions are bottom feeders on offense. Washington is third in the league in rushing offense, averaging 158 yards a game while Detroit is 31st in rush defense, allowing over 167 yards per game. And teams aren't running against the Lions because they can't throw—they are 31st in pass defense and dead last in total defense.

There is one number comparison to look at, however, that may well determine whether or not the Redskins can put this one away early. The Lions have been awful starters. In six games, they have been outscored 54-0 in the first quarter. Most of that came from their first game, when they trailed Atlanta 21-0 at the end of one and their last game, when the Texans went up 14-0. Still, every team they have played has scored in the first quarter and the Lions have yet to dent the scoreboard in the opening stanza.

The Redskins, however, aren't exactly blazing out of the gates either. They have been doubled up in the first quarter, scoring 17 points and giving up 34. Other than the one-play drive after Steven Jackson of the Rams fumbled at the three, the Redskins haven't posted a first-quarter point since the opening drive of the Arizona game on September 22.

Against the Rams and the Browns, the Redskins played right into the hands of the underdogs. They let the other, inferior team hang around and eventually each game came down to a long field goal attempt. One was true, one was wide right and the Redskins split the two games.

To their credit, the Lions have not quit after falling behind early. They answered the Falcons' 21-point blitz with 14 unanswered in the second period. After falling behind Green Bay 21-0 they rallied to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter before collapsing in a barrage of Packer pick-sixes.

So the trap is set. If the Redskins can't get an early cushion the Lions have the ability to get their act together and put on a serious scoring run. The Redskins could find themselves looking up at the wrong end of a six-point game with the Ford Field crowd screaming for the home team's first win.

Jim Zorn will need to go out aggressively and try to put up a quick score or two in order to take the momentum. Maybe this is the game for Devin Thomas, returning to his home state, to score his first NFL touchdown. Maybe this is the game for Jason Campbell let loose against the defense that he torched for 248 yards and two touchdowns at FedEx Field last year. Maybe Clinton Portis will pick up a buck-ten on about 18 carries thanks to the effectiveness of Campbell and watch Shaun Alexander finish out the game.

Maybe all those things will happen and it still will be a close game, anyway. The Redskins own the fourth quarter and they'll have to again to hold off a game Lions team.

Redskins 27, Lions 21

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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.