Callahan's risky coaching tactic pays off with Redskins win

Craig Hoffman
November 24, 2019 - 8:21 pm

The first inkling that something major had happened came last night, when this reporter received a text message from a source indicating that Bill Callahan had gone off in a team meeting.

The source indicated the Redskins interim coach had gone hard, specifically after some younger players and it hadn't sat well with some of those people. But after the Redskins got their first victory at home in over a year on Sunday, the message was fairly unanimous from veteran players who have seen better days.

"I told him before the game that what he said last night needed to be said," linebacker Jon Bostic told The Fan after the game. "I'm used to hard nosed coaches, so this was nothing new to me."

"Honestly, just the vibe on the sideline was different," rookie Cole Holcomb said. "It was guys going out there trying to make plays, trying to have fun and taking it a little more serious."

The defense certainly reacted well to whatever the stimulus was. They created four turnovers and pressure in key situations after getting embarrassed by the Jets last week.

"I definitely knew we was going to have a fire up our ass today," Quinton Dunbar told reporters. "In a team meeting yesterday, Coach Callahan ripped us apart. Guys didn't take that too fairly, and wanted to come out here and prove that they was something that he's saying they wasn't."

Sometimes coaches need to be the bad guy. There are countless books on leadership and coaching which talk about coaches who will look to unite a team by any means necessary, even if that means uniting them in hating the coach for a period of time.

Such tactics are risky, because if they don't work, the result is more losing and a team full of people who hate the coach. But it worked, with an assist from Jeff Driskel, who threw a back-breaking interception right to Dunbar late in the fourth quarter.

"Coach is going to use all his tactics to try to get his guys going," Dunbar continued. "Obviously we haven't been having a great year, so I guess he's trying to find different ways to get us going and keep us going. That's pretty much it."

For his part, Callahan didn't want any part of discussing his tactics. "I think those moments are private," he said. "I think coaches always challenge their team in a lot of different ways, and they responded today extremely well."

The response was Washington's second win of the season, achieved in gutsy fashion.

Craig Hoffman is the Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 The Fan. His post-game columns are powered by Dell EMC and TVAR Solutions -- transforming the federal data center.

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