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Redskins-Eagles: Five keys and a prediction

Redskins-Eagles: Five keys and a prediction

Here are my five keys to Sunday’s Redskins-Eagles game plus a prediction:

1. The Redskins need to contain LeSean McCoy. The other four keys here and all of the other keys and matchups and other analysis you’ll see around the web between now and game time will be rendered useless if McCoy runs wild on the Redskins again. Although it’s not easy to hold him down, it can be done. McCoy has three games this year where he has run for 155 yards or more. But in five games he has 55 rushing yards or fewer. The key is gang tackling, as almost every Redskins defender said this week. An attempt to tackle McCoy one on one usually ends up with the defender grasping air.

2. The Eagles have played one more game than the Redskins and they have two fewer sacks so their pass rush isn’t anything to fear. Defensive end Vinny Curry, who has played about 20 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps this year, leads the team with four sacks. He will line up on either side so the Redskins will have to be ready for him.

3. The Eagles were a disaster in the turnover ratio department in 2012. They were bad on both elements of the formula with just 13 takeaways, tied for last in the NFL, and 37 giveaways, also tied for the worst performance in the league. If you do the math you get a minus-24. They are doing much better this year. Through 10 games they already have more takeaways, 17, than they did all of last year. The Eagles have thrown seven interceptions (none by Nick Foles) and lost eight fumbles. It adds up a plus-2. The Redskins are at zero with 16 takeaways and 16 giveaways. Neither team is good enough to survive a deficit of two or more in the turnover battle on Sunday.

4. It will be interesting to see how Kyle Shanahan goes after the Eagles defense. They want to run the ball but the Philly defense averages giving up a very respectable 4.0 yards per carry. Their pass defense is 31st in the league. This will not be popular with the “pound the rock” crowd but the way to go may be to try to build a lead with the passing game and then preserve it with Alfred Morris.

5. It’s legitimate to point out that the Eagles’ five wins have come over four teams who are currently at least 3 games under .500 plus the Scott Tolzien-led Packers. It also would be fair to say that two of the Redskins three wins, those over the Bears and Chargers, are better “quality” wins than the Eagles have had. That will not matter much on Sunday. The fact is that both the Redskins and Eagles are in the mass of NFL teams that aren’t great but aren’t awful.

Prediction--After presenting five tangible keys here I’m going to stray away from logic in making my predictions. The skid of 10 straight home losses suffered by the Eagles has the same feeling as that streak we saw earlier this year, the one where the Lions had never won in Washington. The Lions were due. Even though each game is a separate event and what happened against the Bengals last year at Lincoln Financial Field or this year against the Chargers there has no logical connection with Sunday’s game, I just think the Eagles are due.

Eagles 31, Redskins 28

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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.