Following every Redskins game of the 2019 season, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay will sit down with a 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 bye week.
JP Finlay: Fresh off a bye week, in a lot of ways, this is a new start to the season, the second half of the season. The team is 1-8. What's your message Monday morning when the second half of the year starts?
Bill Callahan: First off, we have a great opportunity to change the narrative. That narrative is to intensify the preparation, prepare more diligently, prepare more intently as to how we're getting ready for the Jets. I think that process started last week in the bye week and carry forward to the bonus day today, and looking forward to it carrying on, on Wednesday.
JP: You've made your decision at quarterback. The rookie, Dwayne Haskins gets the call, and it's his team now going forward. What got you to that place? What made that decision for you?
Callahan: Well No. 1, with where we're at, I think there's an opportunity also to see where Dwayne's at. We got a lot of confidence in his abilities. He's a young, smart, bright, hard-working quarterback that gives us a chance in this second half. We want to see what he can do. I know he can lead; he did it in Buffalo. Now it's just a matter of expanding that playbook, giving him a few more options, and see how much further we can take him.
JP: What was his reaction with the news?
Callahan: I think very positive. I think he's confident as a quarterback to take on the role, take on the reigns and move forward. You could see that in his presence, you could see it in his demeanor, how he handles himself in and out of the meetings. He's more sure of himself. So it's always good when you get that nod as a starter. But I'll also say for our two veteran quarterbacks, I delayed that announcement just out of respect to Case [Keenum] and to Colt [McCoy]. I thought that it was only fair that I sit down with them and explain to them exactly what their roles are, how it was changing, and what their role would be going forward. I have a ton of respect for both those players.
JP: I imagine they both appreciated the gesture?
Callahan: Yes, they did. But as we all know, it's not a comfortable decision and they are competitive players. They want to play and they feel confident that they can start. But this is where we are at right now at this juncture of the season and this is the decision we've made going forward.
JP: You are now the coach that has handed the keys to Dwayne Haskins. What's your relationship like with the rookie?
Callahan: I've got a great relationship with him.
JP: He's got to love you, you're starting him!
Callahan: Well, I love him. I love all of our players. It was interesting, he came in a few weeks ago and wanted to know what he could do better to win. That was after the Minnesota game. And unfortunately, Case didn't play after that, but he took it to heart. That loss stuck deep into him. He wanted to know exactly what he could do. He came in on a Saturday, on our off day, and we visited for a good hour or so and just talked about what he could do better, how he could perform better, how he could prepare better. I think that resonated. Our veteran players helped as well. It's good to see him take that care and concern and want to do this the right way.
JP: What did that moment show you, him coming in on a Saturday?
Callahan: Well, he came in at 9 o'clock. So he was up early. It meant a lot, it had to be bothering him from the game Thursday night into Saturday morning. It meant a great deal to him.
JP: Was it that interception he threw?
Callahan: I think it was just not winning. That was a part of it. But I think him just not making the plays he wanted to in that game and take the total command and control of those situations. I think he took the loss really, really hard. He's a prideful guy. He wants to win and help contribute. But in a nutshell, when you get stung like that, he didn't want to see that happen again. It was a good sign, a real positive sign.
JP: Daniel Jones threw four touchdowns against this Jets defense. What is a fair baseline or expectation for Dwayne against this Jets defense?
Callahan: Well I think everybody has got to play better across the board. Defense, offense, we're going to have to protect Dwayne. As you well know, Gregg Williams is going to come after him. I think you saw that yesterday with [Jamal] Adams having two sacks, what he did off the edge. And there's just a Mariott of pressures that he can dial-up. They're not always the same. They may be different, he may put them on the shelf for a couple of weeks and bring them back in. So we have to be prepared for everything.
JP: I know your goal is 1-0 this week and 7-0 the rest of the year. Specifically for Dwayne, what would you like to see?
Callahan: I'd just like to see him control and manage the offense. Stay high percentage oriented, stay away from the picks and eliminate sacks. Make the plays that he's capable of making. We're going to cut him loose a little bit and see what he can do. Whether that's short, intermediate or deep, we're going to open the playbook a little bit and expand his abilities and expand his play.
JP: Defensively, since you've taken over, focused on the run game and slowing the game down, the defense has played better. Third downs are still a killer for this Redskins' defense. How can you fix that going forward?
Callahan: Well, I think looking at the bye week, everything that we did research-wise, there are some real tendencies we have to clean up. There's things from a pressure standpoint, from a different front aspect, featuring a couple of different fronts and personnel groupings, that can certainly help us down the line.
JP: You talked a lot about the need for self-scout. Over the last week, what did you find that the team is doing well?
Callahan: Well, the running game, for one. I thought that was a huge improvement, trying to increase the runs per carry, the average per carry. I thought that was all positive. We're doing a better job of run-action protections. We're just not putting it in the [end] zone when we need to. But we came away with a pretty good analysis of where we're at in terms of run-pass selection, and I think that'll change a little bit.
JP: Are you excited to see Guice back out there?
JP: Can he and AP make it work?
Callahan: I believe so. No question in my mind.
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