Jason Tarver has a Bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. He was a Phi Betta Kappa at Santa Clara and twice received the departmental prize for distinguished teaching at UCLA.Impressive classroom work, no doubt. But does Tarver have the antidote to what ails the Raiders' defense on the field?New Raiders coach Dennis Allen certainly thinks so. Or at least hopes so.
The 37-year-old Tarver was officially named the Raiders' new defensive coordinator on Monday after spending last season at Stanford as the Cardinal's co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach and the previous nine years with the 49ers.Many will see the Tarver hiring of such a relatively inexperienced coach into the role of a coordinator as a stretch, but Allen is a defensive-minded coach and Oakland was reportedly rebuffed in attempts to interview seasoned NFL assistants, among them Denver linebackers coach Richard Smith and New Orleans defensive line coach Bill Johnson.Plus, former 49ers and San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was hired by Indianapolis after reportedly interviewing with the Raiders and Kansas City defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas, a mentor of Allen's, decided to stay with the Chiefs.Others linked to the opening included Green Bay cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. and 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatel.It all came back to Tarver, though, who did not call the defensive plays for Stanford, which played predominantly a 3-4 defense. That job went to co-defensive coordinator Derek Mason.Still, the Cardinal ranked third nationally in rush defense (84.4 yards per game), sixth in third-down conversion defense (31.0 percent) and 11th in sacks per game (3.0).The Raiders' defense fell flat late in the season and had franchise worsts in total yards allowed (6,201), passing yards (4,262), yards-per-carry (5.1) and TD passes (31) while the 433 points allowed were third-worst in franchise history.And the Raiders joined Tampa Bay as just the third and fourth teams in league history to allow at least 30 TD passes and 5.0 yards per carry.Perhaps Tarver-as-D.C. will serve as a facilitator, while Allen will be the play-caller?Allen said he does not believe a head coach can be effective being a head coach if he is calling plays, so that duty figures to fall to Tarver, who has never called plays before.With the 49ers, Tarver was as a quality control coach from 2001 through 2003, was an assistant running backs and offensive assistant coach in 2004 and coached the outside linebackers from 2005 through 2010.He has been credited with the development of Parys Haralson, who had a career-high eight sacks in 2008. And in 2009, the 49ers OLBs combined for 17.5 sacks, 15 takeaways and nine forced fumbles.Tarver is a Northern California native who played at Saratoga's West Valley Junior College in 1994 and 1995.Since the 2011 season ended on Jan. 1 with a loss to San Diego, the Raiders have hired a general manager (Reggie McKenzie), fired a head coach (Hue Jackson), and hired a head coach (Dennis Allen) and a slew of assistants in an offensive coordinator (Greg Knaap), defensive coordinator (Tarver), special teams coordinator (Steve Hoffman), offensive line (Frank Pollack), strength and conditioning (Al Miller) and assistant strength and conditioning (John Grieco) and retained two assistants in running backs coach (Kelly Skipper) and assistant offensive line coach (Steve Wisniewski).