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Redskins still learning what they've got in Bill Callahan


Redskins still learning what they've got in Bill Callahan

This offseason the Redskins made a move to strengthen their offensive line, though it had nothing to do with the draft or free agency. Washington poached Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan, offering big money for an assistant coach, and in turn, brought in an experienced and well-respected position coach that should have a big role in the 2015 offense.

Bringing in Callahan is not a typical assistant coach hire, however, as he has significant previous head coaching experience, including taking the Raiders to the Super Bowl in 2002. His experience as the boss, both in Oakland and at the University of Nebraska, means Callahan will be demanding, and the players are starting to notice.

"He's a super intense guy, super thorough," Redskins center Kory Lichtensteiger said after an offseason workout. 

"There's a lot of little differences that we have to be very specific on each play. Getting our call right, getting the right IDs," Lichtensteiger explained.


Thorough and intense are not words many would use to describe the Redskins recent offensive line play. While former coach Mike Shanahan built a team adept at run blocking, the team's big guys were hardly as effective as pass blockers, causing Washington quarterbacks to take hits and sacks at unsustainable rates. And as Robert Griffin III's ability to run waned, the offensive line play truly began to suffer, including the run game. 

"He’s a very demanding coach but it’s something that we need and his presence is being felt already in a positive way," head coach Jay Gruden said. 

'Skins GM Scot McCloughan invested in the offensive line heavily at the draft, taking Brandon Scherff in the first round and Arie Kouandjio in the fourth. The team is clearly looking to improve in that area, and veteran guard Chris Chester was released this week. If nothing else, the personnel will be different.

Different players could help, but there have also been suggestions that the scheme may change to go with more power running. Not so, according to Lichtensteiger.

"We're going to stick with the wide zone as our bread and butter, but I think [Callahan is] going to introduce probably some gap stuff that will be a little different. I don't know how much we will rely on that. I think the wide zone is probably still what we're going to stick with most of all."

Interesting thoughts from the center, a smart player that the line relies on to make calls and protection adjustments. Callahan comes from Dallas, which had the best run game in the NFL last season, but also had an elite offensive line stocked full of first and second round picks and running back DeMarco Murray.

In Washington, Alfred Morris has shown Pro Bowl talent, though his numbers have declined each season since his 1,600 yard rookie year in 2012. That season, when Washington went on a seven game win streak to take the NFC East title, also was RG3's first season.

For Washington, it all comes back to RG3 and 2012. That season, Griffin was as dynamic a run threat as the NFL had ever seen at quarterback, and his legs opened up the offense for Morris and everyone else. The 2015 version of Griffin is a different player, and the offense needs to evolve similarly. Can Callahan help that evolution?

"He’s been awesome and we look forward to winning with him," Griffin said of Callahan.

If the Redskins are to win in 2015, and after winning just seven games in two seasons what constitutes "winning" is debatable, the offensive line must play at a higher level. Callahan will be a big part of that, should it happen.

It won't be for lack of effort. Callahan and his linemen stayed on the field for an extended period of time after OTAs last week; young players working on technique and veterans working on new terminology.  

"He shows a great deal of confidence and a great wisdom amongst his players and expects a lot out of them, works the heck out of them," Gruden said. "That’s what I like about him. I like that he’s taken every ounce of energy they’ve got out there."

The schemes may still look similar, but Callahan and Gruden will expect different results this fall. It won't be for lack of effort or intensity. 

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Bashaud Breeland the latest former Redskin to fail a physical; won't be signing with Panthers

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Bashaud Breeland the latest former Redskin to fail a physical; won't be signing with Panthers

The Redskins had to say good bye to several key players as the 2018 NFL free agency period began.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland was one of those players.

On Tuesday, Breeland reported agreed to a 3-year, $24 million deal with the Carolina Panthers.

But on Friday afternoon it was reported that Breeland failed a physical, which means he won't be signing with the Panthers, per Panthers reporter Bill Voth.


If this sounds familiar, it's because it is familiar.

Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant intended on signing a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens. But a failed physical just a day before his introductory press conference meant a voided contract and back to the drawing board.

According to multiple reports, Breeland's failed physical was due to a recent non-football injury. Breeland and the Panthers could still come to an agreement, but the former Clemson star is now back to being a free agent and will have to pass a physical before officially signing with a new team.

According to ESPN's David Newton, Breeland injured his foot on vacation in the Dominican Republic and will need his skin grafted in order to repair the injury.

The Redskins were one of the NFL's most injured teams in 2017, and that trend appears to have extended to the offseason.


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With Zach Brown back, a look at the Redskins' inside linebackers depth chart

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With Zach Brown back, a look at the Redskins' inside linebackers depth chart

The Redskins went into the offseason with their inside linebacker position very much up in the air. Starters Zach Brown and Mason Foster and top backup Will Compton were all heading into unrestricted free agency. They faced the prospect of needing to start all over.

Things started to look better in late January when Foster re-signed, agreeing to a two-year deal. “I had unfinished business here,” Foster said at the time.

As long as Brown remained unsigned, the Redskins also had unfinished business. They got it done yesterday as Brown inked what is reported to be a three-year deal worth $24 million. We will need to see some details to know just what the contract entails but it looks like a fair deal for both sides.


Compton remains unsigned. With Brown and Foster back he will not be in line for a starting job. We will see how things shake out for him.

Looking at the players under contract, the Redskins have Zach Vigil, who played well as a starter late in the season after injuries struck, Martrell Spaight, and Josh Harvey-Clemons.  

Vigil was released on the final roster cut and returned on November 15 after Compton went to injured reserve. He had 55 total tackles in seven games. If you project that out over a 16-game season that’s 126 tackles, which would have placed him in the top 10 in the NFL. He also plays special teams well. Vigil went from expendable last September to a very valued reserve at this point in time.

Spaight has been a spot starter when starters have been injured. This will be an important year for him as he goes into the final year of the contract he signed after the Redskins made him a fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft.


The Redskins might have been happier if Harvey-Clemons, a 2017 seventh-round pick, didn’t have to play all last year but injuries forced him into a regular role. He was converting from college safety to NFL nickel linebacker and was very much considered to be a project. Harvey-Clemons still needs to add some weight and he has a lot to learn. Still, even if injuries don’t hit this year he should play considerably more than the 93 snaps he logged as a rookie.

The Redskins usually carry nine total linebackers, going with either five inside and four outside or vice versa. So they could be set or perhaps they will bring back Compton or sign another veteran to compete with Spaight for the last roster spot.  

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.