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Need to Know: Redskins need to make hay while the sun is shining

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Need to Know: Redskins need to make hay while the sun is shining

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 19, one day before the Washington Redskins host the St. Louis Rams.

Redskins need to take advantage of early schedule

Yesterday in the game prediction post I looked at some of the opportunities that the Redskins failed to capitalize on against the Dolphins—dropped interceptions, fumbles there for the taking, drives deep into Miami territory that came up empty.

But there is another, bigger opportunity that the Redskins have that they could let slip through their fingers and that is their early schedule.

They have already lost to the Dolphins, who were a mediocre 8-8 last year. Next up are the Rams and Giants, both of whom were 6-10 last year.

Up next are the Eagles. They were a cut above the first three opponents but the Redskins beat them at FedEx Field last year after giving them all they could handle in Philly. After that it’s on the road to play the Falcons and Jets before returning home to play the Bucs. Those three teams combined to go 12-36.

Summing up the first seven games before the by, there is one with a winning record in 2014, one that finished .500 and five coming off of double-digit loss seasons.

It’s a different story after the Week 8 bye. There are four games against 2014 playoff teams including a visit to the defending champion Patriots right off the bat plus two more against teams that finished with winning record. At this point we don’t know how teams will be playing in November and December but that looks like a considerably tougher slate.

This is not the ideal schedule structure for a team that is trying to find its way. At this point, as the try to gel as a team, particularly along the offensive line and at defensive back, they are underdogs at home to the Rams, despite the fact that they have been every bit as mediocre as the Redskins over the past several years.

It should be noted that even though the season has started we really can't be sure of which teams will be quality teams in 2015 and which ones will struggle. It's probably safe to say that the Patriots will be in Super Bowl contention again and that the Bucs will have a top 10 draft pick. But most of the other teams could go either way.

The Redskins have no control over it one way or the other. All they can really do is try to gel sooner and beat some of the lesser teams coming up in the coming weeks. On Friday about 25 minutes after practice ended there were 10 players still out on the field in small groups, working to get better. It’s a good sign that I haven’t seen in previous years.

But, in terms of the schedule, the sun is shining and the Redskins need to make some hay.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park; no availability

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 1; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 5; Eagles @ Redskins 15

In case you missed it

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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: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0: CORNERING THE MARKET

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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.