Bill Callahan: 'I feel bad for our fans'

Chris Lingebach
November 18, 2019 - 9:08 pm

Redskins fans don't have much to cheer for in a lost 1-9 season that somehow got even worse with Sunday's 34-17 loss to the New York Jets.

It was a game the Redskins trailed 20-3 heading into the half, and by as much as 34-3 before the Redskins offense mustered a pair of garbage time touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Against an opponent that walked into FedEx Field with a 2-7 record.

Bill Callahan, who took over when Jay Gruden was fired after an 0-5 start, is now 1-4 as interim head coach. He's changed everything he can to distinguish his fingerprints from his predecessor's – changing how the Redskins practice, bringing in referees to officiate them, installing a scoreboard at Redskins Park to stress situational football – and the results, outside of one measly win in Miami, have largely been exactly the same.

Is Callahan disappointed he hasn't been able to stem the tide?

"The translation is what really gets to me, taking plays from the grass to the game and practicing the way we've practiced," he told reporters Monday. "Our guys, nobody wants to hear it and I understand that. Nobody wants to hear how hard you practice and how hard you prepare, because everybody does in the National Football League."

"And you've gotta come to the game and you've gotta make plays, and when that doesn't translate, yeah there's disappointment," he said. "I'm not discouraged by any stretch. It motivates me more. I've got a deep resolve. I told the team this morning, 'You'll never see that in me,' in terms of giving up or giving in or anything of that nature.

"It's not in my nature. I'm just not about that. I'm a positive person. I've coached positively throughout my career. I'm gonna continue in that fashion."

And then came a bleak admission from Callahan, who says much while saying as little as he can – another way for him to set himself apart from Gruden in his pressers.

"I think that there's definitely frustration on the players' part, because I feel bad for them," he said. "I feel bad for our fans. Our fans come to the game and they expect a quality product to be put on the field, and it wasn't displayed yesterday. That's what eats at me, that's what bothers me, when I feel that I've let our fans down in that respect. It falls on my shoulders. I accept that."

Callahan feels bad for Redskins fans, words he may have wished he could take back as soon as they escaped his tight lips. What's not to feel bad about?

They trudge out to FedEx Field to watch one of the worst teams in the NFL barely muster enough fight to get through a game, actually find comfort in chanting for the owner to "sell the team!" from the same seats they used to watch Joe Gibbs patrol the sidelines, and then have to be constantly reminded on social media that they should feel shame for being one of the few actual Redskins fans in attendance. Their team is the laughing stock of the league and brings nothing but more embarrassment with each passing week.

The Redskins are run by a team president with a .382 winning percentage (that's a 60-96-1 win-loss record, Bruce), who spent five months playing a game of chicken with his best player (all so they can get out of paying him), who dared to request more money after discovering team doctors may have misdiagnosed a cancerous growth on his scalp, after giving his body to the organization for nine years, including – but not limited to – playing with a knee cap that would jiggle in and out of place and a thumb that was no longer beholden to its socket.

When you put it that way, it's quite understandable why Callahan might feel bad for the fans.

There's more:

"But when it doesn't translate from the meeting, to the grass to the game field, that's where I get disappointed," Callahan said. "And that's where I deepen my resolve and go back and try to dig down and find more solutions, find more answers, find more reasons. And when you're in times like this, as a coach, I've learned over the years, you learn more about yourself, your team, people that you're around. It gives you a greater respect for the game."

"And I remember talking to coach (Rod) Marinelli when he was in Detroit and had a tough year there," he said. "And it just strengthened his resolve, regarding his standards, the way that he looks at the game and the way that he coached the game, and you can see that manifest itself in the way that they play in Dallas over the years."

To say Rod Marinelli had a "tough year" in Detroit is an understatement. After going 3-13 and 7-9 in consecutive seasons, Marinelli's Lions completely bottomed out in his third and final season coaching in Detroit, finishing the 2008 season 0-16. Probably not the ideal scenario to reference for Redskins fans looking for hope in this 1-9 season.

"So we all go through this at some point, if you're in this business long enough," Callahan assured. "And you're gonna go through the ups and downs. It's unfortunate it's this year, this year's time we had a lot of high hopes and aspirations for this team. We've got six games left. We can play better. We can play harder. We have to play one game at a time, and make that our main focus and finish as strong as we can."

Why does Callahan think his methods haven't translated into wins (plural)?

"Well I think there's a lot of reasons," he said. "You know consistency, performance. There are times where we haven't been able to capitalize in situational football and that happens. You go back and you look at the film and you say a play here, a play there, a catch instead of a drop, or a decision rather than, or a better read on a play or a better tackle. Whatever it may be. That's the nature of our game.

"If we can solidify those types of things in our play, I think it will only get better, but it's gonna require a lot of work."

It'd be hard for it to get any worse, Bill! Thank you for your candor.

I'm sure the damn good culture will get it right with the next coach.

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