TINSMAN: Callahan finally gets a signature win

Brian Tinsman
December 01, 2019 - 7:26 pm

Miami was the worst team in football at the time. Detroit understandably looked past the Redskins going into a division game on Thanksgiving. 

But no asterisk is needed for the Washington Redskins' 29-21 drubbing of the Carolina Panthers on the road in Charlotte. In fact, it provided D.C. with its largest margin of victory this year and the first back-to-back wins since Weeks 7 and 8 of the 2018 season.

Don't look now, but Bill Callahan is one game under .500 as head coach of the Redskins, and his latest win was his greatest work, based on how the team won.

Running back Derrius Guice had the best game of his young career, rumbling for 129 yards on 10 carries and two rushing touchdowns. He added another eight yards on two catches, with three targets.

Veteran Adrian Peterson had his most efficient game of the season, piling up 99 yards on just 13 carries and adding another rushing score.

Overall, the Redskins averaged a cool 8.3 yards per carry, which has been a clear point of emphasis for Callahan since taking over for Jay Gruden.

By sticking with the rush, the Redskins controlled the clock for one of the few times this year, sustaining drives by picking up 11 first downs on the ground.

"I give a lot of credit to the offensive line. I think those guys blocked really well...our tight ends blocked extremely well," Callahan explained after the game. "Then, of course, we used the jumbo (package) quite a bit today with (Tony) Bergstrom, and our receivers blocked well.

"It was really a good group effort all throughout the running game...We had resiliency, grit and fortitude, coming back from that score to take the lead and come home with a big win that was really huge for our team."

The game plan kept the ball away from Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, who is having an MVP-caliber season. 

It also helped lighten the load for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who made just enough plays to win.

"It's extremely fun to watch those guys run the ball. I challenge those guys, telling them, 'I need a 50-yard run. What can you do?'" Haskins told the media after the game. "(Guice) had a couple of long runs today. He runs so hard, it's so fun watching him, I try not to 'buy a ticket' back there."

The Redskins have another ripe rushing matchup next week on the road in Green Bay, where the Packers rank 26th in the NFL in running defense. What better way to keep Aaron Rodgers grounded than to not let him leave the sidelines?

After the Packers, the Redskins run the NFL East gauntlet again, taking on the Eagles (fifth-ranked run defense), Cowboys (15th) and Giants (22nd).

If pounding the ball gives the Redskins the best chance of winning, then even the quarterback can agree to that.

"The more we win, the better it feels and the more we want to win, to go out there and compete every play, every team we play," Haskins said. "We would like to win the rest of the season, but every game (is) one game at a time."

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.