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The Question Is: What Now?

The Washington Redskins are eliminated from playoff contention. So..

What now?

Team owner Daniel Snyder will have to figure out what direction he wants to go in. You would like to believe that wholesale changes are going to come across the board from management down to the equipment staff. The last three games of the season are against all NFC East opponents and not one of those games mean much to the Redskins as a team. It does mean a lot to the coaches and players who aren’t sure where they will be employed next season. In the eyes of interim head coach Bill Callahan, and the rest of his coaching staff, these last games are an opportunity to prove that they belong as coaches in the NFL and can help this team going forward.

There are a few coaches that may be fighting for an opportunity to come back in some capacity next season starting with current interim head coach Bill Callahan. Many forget that Callahan was the Oakland Raiders head coach when they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. Callahan has an endless amount of football knowledge and experience, but has the game passed him by? Some may look at his inability to get rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins and this offense into any type of rhythm throwing the football as a direct indictment of Callahan’s unwillingness to adjust to today’s game. Others may look at it as a coach that recognized the cards he was dealt and stuck with what he thought would give the team their best opportunity to win each week. I believe any hope Callahan had of having the interim tag removed were eliminated with the Redskins’ playoff chances, but that doesn’t mean he will not be open to returning in some capacity to the Redskins’ coaching staff especially at this juncture of his career.

Offensive Coordinator Kevin O’Connell is considered to be the next great offensive mind behind the likes of Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, and Matt LaFleur. They all got their first legitimate NFL opportunity on the Redskins’ coaching staff and left to do great things as current head coaches in the NFL. If Redskin management looks at O’Connell as “the one they don’t want to get away”, you could possibly see him return in an expanded role on the staff next season. What that role would be, only time will tell, but these next three football games could play a part in what lies in his future. The players seem to like him, the coaches love his football acumen, and he fits the mold of the new age NFL coach.

I know everybody thinks that Greg Manusky will be gone next season as the Redskins’ defensive coordinator. I’ve got news for all of those people…YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. The Redskins’ coaching staff will be receiving an overhaul and Manusky will be one of the first sacrificial lambs. The defense has played better in recent weeks, but the Redskins will most likely be searching for an all new identity on that side of the football. What is unknown is what will happen with position coaches Jim Tomsula and Rob Ryan.

Jim Tomsula should receive a large amount of credit for the continued improved play of defensive linemen Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle, and Daron Payne. They have a young nucleus up front, to include Jonathan Allen, but one could say they have underachieved as a cohesive unit. With the talent possessed on that line, it was thought that they would be DOMINANT, but they have been INCONSISTENT. They have shown flashes of excellence individually, but the lone constant producer has been Matt Ioannidis who leads the team in sacks. That doesn’t fall completely on the shoulders of Tomsula because a lot of that has to do with schematics. Tomsula has to work within the confines of the system and try to put the best players in the best position to make plays under those circumstances. A new coach may see the value Tomsula brings and decide he will solicit his services making the transition smoother for a new coaching staff and players as they implement a new defensive system.

Linebacker coach Rob Ryan is in a similar situation where his position has not exactly been looked at as a glaring strength on the defensive side of the football. They have received minimal production from the outside linebacker group as a whole and the middle linebackers have played well in certain situations. Cohesively, the linebacker group has probably played at a C- level collectively throughout this season. Once again, part of that falls on the position coach, but part of it falls on the schematics and not putting players in the best positions to make the plays they are capable of making. On the positive side for Ryan, a couple of bright spots have been rookie middle linebacker Cole Holcomb and free agent pickup Jon Bostic. They have been a solid tandem throughout the season and sideline to sideline cover a lot of space. They have been exploited on passing downs in one on one situations, have missed tackles in open space, and struggle at times to shed blocks. That a lot of times is on the player, not necessarily because they haven’t been coached up to do the right things.

The defense will look to build under a microscope on players and coaches alike. There are three games left. It doesn’t matter whether the Redskins win or lose. It matters if they finish with fight because that means the coaches have been able to keep them focused, motivated, and professional. It can’t be understated how important that is. Especially with so many jobs on the line. Management will pay close attention and do their own evaluations as the season comes to a close. My question is “Who is evaluating the evaluators”. As you were…

Photo Credits

Bill Callahan: Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

Kevin O’Connell: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Greg Manusky and Jim Tomsula: Zachary Neel/USA Today Sports

Rob Ryan: Washington Redskins

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