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 9 loss to the Buffalo Bills and the team’s play at quarterback moving forward.
JP Finlay: I know it’s the bye week. For some, that means time off. For you, I assume that means time right here at Redskins Park?
Bill Callahan: Yes it does, JP. Today we had the players in for a normal Monday after a game. [On Tuesday], they’ll be in a for light skills and a meeting with the NFL, and Wednesday we go back on to the practice field. We’ll get one good practice in before they depart for four days.
JP: That’s not always the case around the league. That hadn’t been the case here, to have that Wednesday practice during the bye week. What are the factors going into [that decision]?
Callahan: Well first off, a lot of teams do work on that day. The decision here was based on our self-scout and taking the inventory and the facts from the self-scout, and then put it in the basis of practice to try and improve the team. That’s what we’re after and that’s what the focus will be on Wednesday.
JP: If I turn the page back to the Bills game, you said you weren’t happy with where your team was mentally in Buffalo?
Callahan: Yeah, I thought we made too many mental errors in Buffalo early on in the game. We straightened it out in the second half, but their early start, the fast start eluded us, just because of the fact we made too many errors in our game. We were in prime position a few times to capitalize, and those mental errors came back and they hurt us. We need to clean up the mental aspect and focus better in the areas that we need to concentrate on.
JP: Does that start with the first play of the game being a procedure penalty? How crazy were you ready to go?
Callahan: Oh, man. I thought that was a great play-call by Kevin [O’Connell]. AP hit it. It was a beautiful 10-yard run that set the tempo of the game. And then to have that called back, we were all sitting there wondering where the flag was coming from, and it was a non-report. That was unusual because we practice it every day. Tony [Bergstrom] practices reporting to the umpire and to the referee, and it didn’t show up in the game. I don’t know how or why. I tried to get an explanation, and they just said he didn’t report to the white cap, which is the referee. We took that five-yard hit, and that put us in a first-and-15 to start the game, which to me is a huge negative.
JP: What did you think of AP’s performance?
Callahan: I thought he did really well. I thought he battled hard, and his runs in the first half were outstanding. I just wish we could have done a little more in the second half for him, give him a little bit more of an opportunity. But I think overall, he had a real solid day.
JP: I mean, over 100 in the first half is pretty impressive. On three plays, I think he had 65 yards or something like that.
Callahan: Yeah, he was hot. We kept running him.
JP: What about Dwayne Haskins? His first start in the NFL in Buffalo, how do you think he performed?
Callahan: Like I mentioned yesterday, I thought he was really efficient with the ball. The biggest thing is, the decision-making process he was going through was very good. He didn’t turn it over. He didn’t force throws. I thought he went through the progressions well. I know he can get better. You can see where his improvement lies. But I think for his first start, you have to commend him for going in there and running the show in a hostile environment.
JP: [With] the weather and everything else, [Buffalo] was not an easy place to play, [especially with] that defense. Correct me if I’m wrong. You’re not ready to make a [quarterback] decision going forward. Is that right?
Callahan: Yeah. We will make it next Monday.
JP: Is that just you taking your time during the bye week?
Callahan: Yeah. We have plenty of time to go through a lot of things. We’re going to go through the offense and the defense with a fine-tooth comb and look at everything from the start of the season to where we are at now. Take each situation, take each phase of our game and really dissect it and change it if it needs to be changed, which I’m sure will be. We’ll look at the quarterback situation and personnel later in the week. But we are going to get through the schematics, talk about the personnel within the schematics as we’re evaluating, and then really have a good discussion on personnel later in the week. That’s really the focus for our staff and also our team this week.
JP: Now, that doesn’t rule Dwayne out as the starter going forward?
Callahan: All I can tell you is that we’re going to take our time and take a look at everything.
JP: What is Case [Keenum’s] case, for a lack of a better word, to get the job back?
Callahan: Well right now he’s in protocol. He’s still in protocol. So again, we’re going to take our time, look at everything in the self-scout week and have our decision on Monday for you.
JP: Defensively, how do those guys get better? I know it’s a blanket statement, but it can be applied to each level of the team.
Callahan: Well, there are so many instances where they played well, and instances where maybe they didn’t play quite as well. We didn’t start the game fast. Buffalo scored on their first three possessions. It could have been 21-0. I thought our defense responded well on the one goal-line stand where they were first-and-goal on the two [yard line]. It was the second series of the game, and we backed them up to almost a third-and-17, and they came out with a field goal. But nonetheless, there were opportunities there where we did not capitalize on third down. Then in the second half, we start keeping up, we start getting stops. We made two critical stops in the fourth quarter to get the ball back to the offense with the chance to get the ball and drive down there and tie it up. We didn’t get the job done, point-blank. The complementary aspect of our football team hasn’t really been in temple or flow. That’s another area that we’re focused on to find ways to complement our defense when they are doing well. Whether it’s a sudden change, whether it’s a three-and-out, whether it’s a field position aspect or a short field, we need to take advantage when they do make those plays and capitalize on them.
JP: Paul Richardson had some interesting comments after the game, where he said we keep hearing ‘We’re close’ and ‘We’re putting in good effort,’ and that’s not enough for Paul. How do you react to comments like that from your players?
Callahan: Well, after the game yesterday, my reaction to the game was ‘We didn’t get it done.’ The nature of the National Football League is to win. You either win, or there’s going to be changes. So my comments were pretty much blunt force trauma afterward, telling the team that winning is the only thing that matters. Playing hard and playing close is all good, but winning is the bottom line. We didn’t get it done. We need to do a better job and we have to get it done.
JP: The Jets might give you a chance.
Callahan: Well, I know the defensive coordinator [Gregg Williams] pretty well. You can rest assured there will be plenty of pressures coming our way in two weeks.
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