Following every Redskins game of the 2019 season, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay will sit down with an exclusive, one-on-one interview with interim head coach Bill Callahan to discuss the team's performance.
Here's what Callahan had to say following the team's Week 8 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
JP Finlay: Coach Callahan, [you have] a miniature bye in a way. You've had four days off. I'm curious as to how you spent the time from Thursday night to [Monday] being back at practice.
Bill Callahan: Well, we did a lot of focus and self-scout of our own this past weekend. We also got a little time away. But by in large, we were really preparing ourselves for the Bills. We worked on Buffalo today at practice. So we kind of duck-tailed the Minnesota game as a wrap-up and the Buffalo Bills as a preview going into today's practice.
JP: Self-scouting for a couple of days, where do you think your team is?
Callahan: Well, they are competing and they are practicing hard. We just haven't made or generated the plays or taken advantage of the opportunities that we needed to have, especially in the last few games. And it's disappointing. I think if you look at it, the two teams that we played are 13-2, the two best teams in the NFC conference. From that aspect, you can say 'you're playing hard' or 'you're playing better.' But the bottom line is we didn't win those games. Our focus is on winning games. We know we're close, but we need to finish better and we need to close better.
JP: What do you tell the guys then? 'Hey, it was a good effort in Minnesota, but it's still not enough?' How do you convey that message?
Callahan: The message is simple. It's all about improvement. That's the one thing you can control as a player. You go out on the practice field and you focus diligently on the things you can get better at, whether it's positionally, unit-wise, team-wise. That's what we conveyed today at the team meeting. So as we went out to practice today, we worked on the screen game, which we needed to work on. We worked on tackling and the four-minute drill that needs to improve. We worked on a little bit of the red zone, things of that nature. So we were back at work and focused on Buffalo, but also the things that we need to get better at.
JP: Speaking of the red zone stuff, you're not going to like this stat, and I'm going to tell you the truth.
Callahan: Oh I know it.
JP: Nine quarters, no touchdowns. What is happening? I'll say this, the first half against Minnesota is the best that Case [Keenum] has played in some time, and it gets bogged down in the end zone.
Callahan: We punched it down there but we didn't punch it in. When you're down in that area, you have to roll 7s. You can't roll 3s. When you come out with 3s, it doesn't do you any good. You get points on the board, but you don't get that separation you need when you're in a tough environment and can separate from a team, or conversely, put more pressure on a team. We need those red zone conversions and that's definitely something we are working on.
JP: Goal-line chance against the 49ers, there was a lot of run, tight formations. Goal-line chance against the Vikings, you spread it out, a couple passes down there. Neither worked, but is there one you preferred? Does it need to be kind of opposite sides?
Callahan: I think we looked back at it and said, 'well, you have to give them credit.' They are coaching their players pretty well, too. So we got shut down in our pass game route in that first-and-goal. Then we ran it and got that negative to put us in that third-down situation. I think the play sequence [is something] we are always trying to improve. I think when we've got a runner like [Adrian Peterson], our focus can be a little different. We've shown [that] in games prior to that. But we just thought that some of the things we did were the best calls at the time. They didn't work out, unfortunately, and I respect that responsibility and move on.
JP: You've been in the NFL for a long time and practically seen everything. The trade deadline has dramatically changed from what it was even five years ago. 10 years ago, there were hardly any trades. Now, a lot happens at the trade deadline. How does that impact the psyche of the building, where some folks are probably on edge or maybe a little anxious about what could happen?
Callahan: It's a good question, but I don't think the players look at it like that. In all fairness, I think the players do the best that they can and control what they can. I don't know if there's any deliberation about any player being traded, and if there is, then there is. That's something that management and the front office would probably keep under wraps and they would disclose it when the time is proper. But I don't think that any player worries about that, being traded or not traded, just do the best that they can. That's what they can control.
JP: Do you have a twitter?
JP: Social media is a huge part of young athletes' lives. I think it can be detrimental in spots and probably has its big advantages at spots. Do you wonder or worry about your guys on social media?
Callahan: No. You can't control everything that's out there. Especially social media. To put wraps on social media, or tell them that they can't be this, do that, I think that shows a lot of distrust as a head coach to a team. That is saying, 'I really don't trust you to go out there and communicate, or do what you do.' That's personal. That's their own dealings. I think that they and everybody can always be smarter about that, but I don't try to control it. I'm not a controlling type of person. Everybody is accountable for their own actions. They always have choices, decisions, consequences. So I leave that to them. They are grown men. They know what they are doing.
JP: QB depth chart: Case, Dwayne [Haskins], Colt [McCoy]?
JP: Case is in protocol?
JP: Is Dwayne ready if he's called upon for Buffalo?
Callahan: Oh he'd be ready. Absolutely.
JP: And Colt as the backup?
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