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Need to Know: Do the Chiefs give the Redskins a blueprint?

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Need to Know: Do the Chiefs give the Redskins a blueprint?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 8, the day the Washington Redskins host the Kansas City Chiefs.

Do the Chiefs give a blueprint?

A year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were just about where the Redskins are now. At 2-10 after 12 games, they had been eliminated from realistic playoff contention for quite some time. They lost their last four games to finish 2-14.

With Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn sharing the quarterback duties—the each had a 1-7 record as a starter), the Chifs scored 211 points (13.2/game), last in the NFL and 39 fewer points than the next-worst team.

The defense had four members selected to the Pro Bowl but it wasn’t much better than the offense. They allowed 425 points, (26.6/game), 26th in the league.

If you do the math you’ll see that Kansas City was outscored by a margin of more than two to one. That cost head coach Romeo Crennel his job after just one full season in charge (he was the interim coach there for the last three games in 2011).

Andy Reid was hired and things are very much looking up with the Chiefs at 9-3 and close to wrapping up a playoff spot. There were no wholesale lineup changes. The most important change came with Alex Smith at quarterback. The Cassel-Quinn duo threw 8 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. Smith’s TD-INT is 16-6.

With just a few new starters on defense, the Chiefs have flipped the script under coordinator Bob Sutton. They have gone from 20th to fourth in yards allowed and from 25th to fourth in points allowed.

I’m sure you can see the point here. A team does not necessarily need a massive infusion of new talent in order to turn its record around. A key fix here and there can do wonders for team chemistry and results on the scoreboard.

A new head coach is not a necessity for dramatic improvement; the Lions have gone from 4-12 last year to 7-5 by staying steady under head coach Jim Schwartz. But others like Reid’s old team the Eagles have found regime change to be a very positive action.

We also see other teams that were hoping to build on 2012 playoff success struggling this season. One of those teams, the Texans, has already moved on from Gary Kubiak. The Falcons are unlikely to get rid of Mike Smith, who took them to the NFC title game last year. We don’t know about the ultimate fate of Leslie Frazier, whose Vikings made the postseason at 10-6 last year but are now struggling at 3-8-1.

Mike Shanahan may survive the Redskins’ rocky season. He may not. But either way the team does not necessarily face a massive, lengthy rebuilding project. Washington fans need look no further than the sideline opposite the Redskins’ today for proof.

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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.