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Redskins offense is going downhill—and that's a good thing


Redskins offense is going downhill—and that's a good thing

The Redskins offense is going downhill. And that’s a good thing.

New offensive line coach and running game coordinator Bill Callahan has kept some of the outside zone runs that the Redskins have utilized heavily for the past several years. But he has added a new element as well.

“We’ve done some more downhill run plays,” said Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams when asked about the scheme changes from last season to now. “I don’t know, I think they might fit the backs that we have a little more. Obviously those guys can still get out on the edge and have a lot of success there but I think that any time you can get a Matt Jones, a 235-pound back, or Alfred Morris, 220-230-pound back going downhill, it’s going to always present a challenge.”

It has indeed presented a great challenge to the two defenses the Redskins have faced so far. After two games they have rushed for a league-leading 343 yards and the ground attack has helped them control the clock to the tune of over 37 minutes of possession time in each game.

It’s not just the schemes that make Callahan such a respected and effective coach. He knows that the devil is in the details.

“Obviously, Bill is a different kind of coach,” said Williams. “He’s one of those guys who isn’t going to let anything slip through the cracks. He’s going to cover every possible look, every possible situation that they have. And he works us extremely hard and I think guys are buying in and it’s paying off.”

The acquisition of Callahan was a double coup for the Redskins because they took him away from their division rivals, the Cowboys. Through two games Dallas is 20th in the league in rushing yards after being second a year ago. The two main factors being cited with the Cowboys’ running game issues (certainly with a small sample size) are the departures of running back DeMarco Murray, the NFL’s leading rusher, via free agency and Callahan leaving after his contract was up.

A reporter was in Dallas a year ago working on a story about Callahan. He asked Cowboys center Travis Fredrick, who was going into his second season with Callahan as his position coach, about the coach’s style.

“Ultimate technician, he’s focused on every single detail,” Frederick told Greg Bedard of then about what Callahan was like in the offensive line room. “He’ll watch every play several times to specifically target every point. ‘Your hand is two inches to the right.’ Or, ‘Your foot came down too early or didn’t step in the right direction.’ He’s all over every point. He demands the best. Certainly helped me.”

The Cowboys had one of the top offensive lines in the game last year. Jeff Fisher of the Rams, the team the Redskins beat last Sunday while gaining 182 rushing yards, said that the line reminded him of the Cowboys’ group.

“They’re outstanding on coaching,” Fisher said after the game. “Coach Callahan has done a great job with that offensive line. It’s Dallas all over again.”

Well, the Cowboys line got it done for 16 games plus a couple in the playoffs. This season is barely underway. We will have to see if the Redskins can keep it up but it looks like they are in good hands. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on and

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page

and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS