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After a solid draft, is the dysfunction at Redskins Park a thing of the past?

After a solid draft, is the dysfunction at Redskins Park a thing of the past?

If you look around the internet you see many analysts praising the Redskins’ draft. I would have been ecstatic if one of my high school report cards came back like the draft grades the Redskins have received.

SB Nation and USA Today both gave them an A-minus. Rob Rang of CBS Sports wasn’t quite as impressed but you should be able to win games with players from a B-graded draft. I went with a B-plus. There may have been a contrarian or two out there giving them a C but most of the reviews were positive.

Hit the rewind button to about eight weeks ago, to March 9. After about a week of speculation, Scot McCloughan was fired as the team’s general manager. The organization was being called a dysfunctional clown show and a GIF of a dumpster fire was a common attachment to tweets about the team.

But life went on at Redskins Park. They checked a lot of boxes in free agency, signing two defensive linemen, a safety, linebacker Zach Brown, and receiver Terrelle Pryor. The building of the defense continued during the draft with the acquisitions of DL Jonathan Allen, OLB Ryan Anderson, and CB Fabian Moreau. The contracts for the free agent acquisitions were reasonable and they got solid value for most of these draft picks.

RELATED: Grading the Redskins 2017 draft

There was nothing dysfunctional about the process. We will see how things work out on the field, which is what really matters. But taking an objective look at it, it appears to be a carefully thought out and well-executed offseason personnel plan.

Sometime in the next few weeks the Redskins will name a new general manager. Perhaps it will be Scott Campbell, the current director of college scouting who has been working in the personnel side of the NFL for 30 years, including 16 years with the Redskins. It could be Doug Williams, who has been involved in both coaching and personnel in the 30 years since he was a Super Bowl hero for the Redskins.

Perhaps hiring from within is not ideal. While Campbell and Williams are both sharp and good at their jobs, it isn’t like either name comes up when another team is looking to interview GM candidates. The Redskins may be better served by casting a wider net in their general manager search.

Still, if the search turns out as expected, Campbell or Williams would be an acceptable general manager. The hiring of either would not scream dysfunction, just that they could do better.

So, has the dumpster fire been put out? While the correct answer is yes, there is no assurance that (to mix in another metaphor here) the train will stay on the tracks.

MORE REDSKINS: Five Redskins who could lose their jobs to draft picks 

We’ve see this all before. Marty Schottenheimer had a strong finish in 2001 only to be fired after one season on the job. Joe Gibbs had a bumpy four-year second run that ended abruptly with his second retirement. Mike Shanahan was in the process of trying to patiently assemble a winning program until the RG3 trade blew things up. There has been some semblance of stability with Jay Gruden entering his fourth year as coach but that was marred by the ugly McCloughan dismissal in March.

There always seems to be plenty of fuel in the dumpster just waiting for an ignition spark.

Enjoy it while you can, Redskins fans. There is a glimmer of hope on the coaching front. There will be stability long enough to build a team that can make a playoff run or two. Maybe the past won’t repeat itself but it’s up to you to determine how much hope you want to invest in that possibility.

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

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Bill Callahan might be an old-school running coach, but he knows he needs to adapt against 49ers

Bill Callahan might be an old-school running coach, but he knows he needs to adapt against 49ers

From the moment Bill Callahan took over as the Redskins interim head coach, he talked almost exclusively about establishing the run game in the offense. 

Last week in Miami his team did just that, running the ball 33 times for 145 yards. It was Washington's biggest output from the ground game this season, and by a wide margin. 

This week, however, the Redskins face a much stiffer challenge against San Francisco. The 49ers boast the second-best defense in the league, trailing only the Patriots, and Kyle Shanahan's team is giving up fewer than 90 rush yards-per0game. That's nearly 100 yards less than the Dolphins were giving up prior to last week's game against the Redskins. 

Last week, it made sense for Callahan to preach running the football. Miami was awful at defending it. This week, things look much different, and Redskins fans might be surprised to know Callahan looks willing to change his offensive scheme. 

"Every game is different," Callahan said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington.

"This game coming up may be different than last week. We may take certain shots on certain downs and distances, and change our tendencies as we go forward. That's always fluid."

Against the 0-4 Dolphins, the Redskins played a conservative offense that saw Case Keenum complete just 13 passes. He was able to connect with rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin for two scores, but there were plenty of pass yards left on the field in Miami. The truth was Washington didn't need to do that much offensively to beat the awful Dolphins.

Against 5-0 San Francisco, the opposite is true. The Niners' offense ranks fifth in the league in yards-per-game and third in points-per-game. Shanahan's team plays great football on both sides, and the former Redskins offensive coordinator will very much want to show off his new squad on Sunday. 

Callahan seems quite aware of the circumstances for this game, and that could mean a much more aggressive Redskins offense. 

"I think that you are gameplan specific based on your opponent," the coach said. "Obviously, you want to take advantage of the things you can do. We will certainly focus in on that as we delve into the 49ers."

The Niners have won four out of five games by double digits, and two wins came by more than 20 points. This team is clicking on all cylinders right now. 

The Redskins have a serious task in front of them, and oddsmakers installed Washington as double-digit underdogs. The good news, even if minor, is Callahan looks like he understands the nature of his opponent and that he must adapt his team to best attack San Francisco. 

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Exclusive: JP Finlay sits down with Bill Callahan after the Redskins' first win

Exclusive: JP Finlay sits down with Bill Callahan after the Redskins' first win

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 6 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

JP Finlay: This time last week, you had just taken this job. A lot has happened in a week. You were able to get your first win. How does all of this feel?

Bill Callahan: It's been a whirlwind. It's been a tough situation. Bittersweet. It was great for our team to come away with a win in Miami. This franchise hasn't won on the road in Miami forever. To come away with a win in those elements, in the situation we were, with the heat and everything else, was tremendous for our team. We're looking forward to building upon that as we move forward to San Francisco.

JP: That game looked pretty in-hand, then Ryan Fitzpatrick comes in late and things get nuts. What was going on, on your sideline, late in that game when they go for the two-point conversion? How relieved were you at the end?

Callahan: I thought our defense did a great job stopping the two-point play. We took a timeout prior. We took what we call a 'Kodak,' we took a picture of that offensive formation for that defense before they came back to it again. They showed the same play twice. Kudos to our defense and what they did. I got help from the box. Kevin told me, 'hey, let's take a timeout here. Let's take a Kodak moment.' We had a timeout to burn there, so we utilized it, and it really helped out defense diagnose what was going to be anticipated, what the play was going to be at that time.

JP: Bigger picture now, you've got 10 games left. What are your goals? Obviously, you're climbing out of an 0-5 hole. How do you tell these guys what the plan is next?

Callahan: It's one week at a time. The way the division is right now, it's a little bit crazy. If we just focus on what we need to get done and improve from week to week, that's all we can control. The vision is, 'let's get better this week. Let's build on what did last week. Let's improve the techniques and the schemes and the game management items that we weren't as good as, or could have been good as in Miami and carry our focus.' That's our intention going forward.

JP: You've been very clear with it, and you stuck to it [against Miami], this team is going to run the football. Is that replicable when you're not going against the Dolphins? The Dolphins were giving up 40 points per game, you came out with 17. That won the game. Do you want to stick with that formula against a 49ers time that scores a lot more?

Callahan: Well, I think every game is different. This game coming up may be different than last week. We may take certain shots on certain downs and distances, and change our tendencies as we go forward. That's always fluid. I think that you are gameplan specific based on your opponent. Obviously, you want to take advantage of the things you can do. We will certainly focus in on that as we delve into the 49ers.

JP: Last week, much was made about when Bruce Allen talked about the culture at Redskins Park. I wanted to give you the opportunity; this team is yours now. How would you describe the culture of this team?

Callahan: Well, we're trying to establish structure. More discipline. Be more focus-oriented in the meetings and our preparation and on the practice field as well. We're a little bit more situational-oriented on the practice field. So that's a little bit of a shift. That's my personal thoughts. It's no disrespect towards Jay or anybody. I think anybody that would take over the team at this time would implement their own thinking, their own philosophy, and thoughts they believe could help improve the football team. All I'm trying to do is the best job for our team. I've got a lot of help from our players. I talked to our team captains, I get their input. I talk to our staff quite a bit, get their input. No man can do this alone. Trust me. There's a lot of help I'm grateful for, believe me. It's not about me, it's about our team. The more help I can get to help us win, I'm all for it.

JP: The situational football, the play call of that game, to me, was the play-action, down at your own goal line. Did you practice that this week?

Callahan: We did. I thought it was a great play, a great play call by Kevin. We're at first-and-10 at the minus-1, got stuffed. We came right back to the run-action pass, and what a beautiful ball by Case [Keenum] to Terry [McLaurin]. Great route, great stem. He separated beautifully on the deep cut, the throw was precision-oriented, and the offensive line and tight ends did a great job max blocking it. We were in eight-man protection.

JP: It takes some guts to call that down there. Any hesitation when you heard Kevin say it?

Callahan: Oh, no. Not at all. That was the right call. It was one that was planned. When you get in a backed-up situation, you want a set of plays, runs and passes, that complement each other. It was well-orchestrated, well prepared for, and well-executed.

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