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Roster gives peek at the Zorn Identity

Roster gives peek at the Zorn Identity

A look at the final roster for the Washington Redskins tells me that Jim Zorn is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst when it comes to the team's offensive output in 2008.

Zorn and company kept 24 offensive players and 26 defenders. They kept five wide receivers when most thought it was certain that they would keep six, choosing instead to go with a sixth defensive end. And the luxury of having a fourth running back on the roster to stockpile some talent there was sacrificed in order to keep an extra defensive back around.

And, in reality, a number of offensive players either aren't ready to play or won't play if all goes as planned. Colt Brennan and Todd Collins go into the latter category while the likes of Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas, Chad Reinhardt, and Justin Geisinger fall under the designation of those who aren't playing at prime-time levels yet. That leaves just 18 players to man the 11 offensive positions.

On the other hand, most of the defensive players will be counted on to contribute, either in situations from scrimmage or on special teams.

Zorn, the offensive-minded head coach, the ex-quarterback, is being practical. Instead of collecting extra weapons for his side of the ball, he opted to give Greg Blache and Danny Smith a couple more tools with which to do their jobs.

It seems that Zorn knows that he has his work cut out for him in crafting this offense into a well-oiled machine. He knows that in order to stay in games while the offense is in on the job training mode he'll need a defense that can constantly rotate in fresh linemen to keep pressure on the other team's quarterback and that he'll need plenty of hands in the backfield to cover multiple-receiver sets.

The West Coast offense is supposed to replace a lot of running plays with short passes. I don't see Zorn doing that to the extent that, say, Andy Reid does in Philadelphia. While we won't see a Gibbs-like power running game, it's safe to say that Zorn will rely heavily on Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts to move the chains. Still, there will be a high number of three and outs and the defense has to be ready to take the field after only a short rest on frequent occasions.

In other situations such as this, many new head coaches would be uncomfortable going in with a relatively small number of players on the side of the ball that represents his specialty. It looks like Jim Zorn has checked his ego at the door and is dealing with the reality that his offense isn't likely to score points by the bucket in 2008.

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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.