Questions for Bill Callahan, Greg Manusky as Redskins coaching carousel heats up

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Questions for Bill Callahan, Greg Manusky as Redskins coaching carousel heats up originally appeared on nbcsportswashington.com

The Redskins coaching staff got some certainty when Jay Gruden received official recognition that he would stay on as head coach for the 2019 season. 

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That was expected.

What happens next could both be expected, and unexpected. 

There has been significant speculation about the future of two Redskins assistant coaches, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and assistant head coach and offensive line coach Bill Callahan. It's no sure thing either coach moves on or gets fired, but both situations need to be monitored.

Manusky's case is unique.

At times, the Redskins defense has looked terrific. Injuries undid the group in the 2017 season, but in 2018, the Redskins played a tough brand of football that focused on stopping the run and generating turnovers. At least early on. The back half of the schedule saw the 'Skins get gashed on the ground and the defense seemed wholly ineffective getting off the field on third downs. 

Then there was the situation with DJ Swearinger, who publicly questioned Mansuky's play calling and scheme after a Week 16 loss to the Titans. 

The collapse of the defense in the second half of 2018, coupled with the Swearinger comments and other frustrations by defensive players, might be enough to cost Manusky his job. There are plenty of candidates to replace him, and former Redskins defensive back Todd Bowles might be at the top of the list. 

Statistically, however, the Redskins 2018 defense doesn't demand a coach get fired. 

The group finished 15th in points allowed and 17th in yards allowed. Washington finished the season +7 in turnover margin, tied for 8th in the NFL, and the defense generated 26 takeaways. Those are solid numbers.

With Gruden definitely back, some fans might want to see somebody fired. And that somebody might be Manusky. 

Coaches understand that pro football is a harsh business, and missing the playoffs usually means staff changes. At Redskins Park, some of those changes could come this week. 

Callahan's situation is different. 

He's been with the Redskins since 2015, when the organization poached him away from the Dallas Cowboys. In both spots, Callahan coached the offensive line.

In 2017, when Sean McVay left to coach the Los Angeles Rams, Callahan got increased influence of the offense and much control over the Redskins run game. The team added assistant head coach to Callahan's title. 

With the Cowboys, Callahan's offensive line and run game was the league's best.

In Washington, Callahan's influence on the offensive line and run game haven't found nearly the same success.

This season, Adrian Peterson was the first 1,000-yard rusher of Callahan's tenure. And considering Peterson is 33-years-old and eventually headed for the Hall of Fame, it's unclear how much of the 2018 run-game success was a testament to Peterson or the gameplan. 

There has been speculation Callahan might want to leave the Redskins. That could certainly happen. 

It also seems appropriate to point out that for the past two seasons, Washington has sustained significant injuries along their offensive line. At almost every practice and throughout training camp, Callahan keeps the offensive line on the field well after the rest of the team has concluded their work. While it's overly simple to draw a straight line from the extended practices to the injuries, there might be some correlation. 

There's also the run game, which has been somewhere between bad and mediocre throughout Callahan's tenure in Washington. The zone blocking techniques don't look the same as other more effective schemes, like what Kyle Shanahan ran with the Redskins and now deploys in San Francisco. 

Callahan has a long-standing relationship with team president Bruce Allen, the two worked together in Oakland in the late 1990s and early 2000s. What that means is unclear, but it could impact any decisions made this week or going forward. 

Other changes could happen on the Redskins coaching staff. Might Kevin O'Connell get an increased role? That could directly change as things unfold with Callahan and current offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. 

The Redskins haven't made the playoffs in three seasons, and haven't won a playoff game in more than a decade. 

Everything deserves examination. 

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