A 1-win trip to nowhere

Gru­den was fired at 0-5, but Cal­la­han has added no sign of di­rec­tion at 1-3 since

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Stephen Whyno

ASH­BURN, VA. — Since the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins fired Jay Gru­den at 0-5 and re­placed him with Bill Cal­la­han, they have one win and three more losses to show for the coach­ing change.

Five con­sec­u­tive losses to open the sea­son al­ready quashed Wash­ing­ton’s play­off hopes, but there’s lit­tle tan­gi­ble ev­i­dence the move is pay­ing off in the short or long term. The Red­skins at the bye week of a lost sea­son are a team with­out a de­fin­i­tive an­swer at quar­ter­back, so­lu­tions to prob­lems on of­fense and de­fense, or a vis­i­ble or­ga­ni­za­tional plan for the fu­ture.

Cal­la­han has re­peat­edly set the ex­pec­ta­tion at win­ning the next game and said he’s re­ceiv­ing no di­rec­tion from the front of­fice on how to de­velop young play­ers for the next few years. On Mon­day, he re­fused to name Dwayne Hask­ins the start­ing QB mov­ing for­ward af­ter the 15th over­all pick turned in an ef­fi­cient if not spec­tac­u­lar first NFL start.

“I just want to take my time and de­cide where we’re go­ing to go — the di­rec­tion that we’re go­ing to go,” Cal­la­han said.

Re­ports emerged Wed­nes­day that team brass told Hask­ins he’s now the starter, which fi­nally puts the Red­skins on a sim­i­lar path with other teams at the bot­tom of the stand­ings. The1-7 New York Jets are play­ing their se­cond sea­son with first-round pick Sam Darnold and first un­der coach Adam Gase; the 2-6 divi­sion ri­val New York Giants got the Daniel Jones era un­der way in Week 3; the 0-8 Cincin­nati Ben­gals last week named fourth-rounder Ryan Fin­ley their starter; and the 1-7 Mi­ami Dol­phins — the only team Wash­ing­ton has beaten — are in well-doc­u­mented tank mode.

The 1-8 Red­skins didn’t trade any­one at the dead­line and haven’t yet pressed into a full youth move­ment. And as long as they’re be­ing mea­sured for wins and not growth, there are go­ing to be plenty more un­met ex­pec­ta­tions over the com­ing weeks. Wash­ing­ton might be fa­vored just twice in its fi­nal seven games.

“The frus­tra­tion is that we’re just not win­ning,” rookie cor­ner­back Jimmy More­land said af­ter the most re­cent loss Sun­day at Buf­falo. “That’s the frus­tra­tion right there as a whole. We put a lot in week in and week out. Com­ing out with a re­sult like this is hard ev­ery week.”

At the very least, owner Dan Sny­der and pres­i­dent Bruce Allen pulled the plug on Gru­den and set the clock tick­ing to­ward a ninth dif­fer­ent coach in 20 years. Cal­la­han, who worked un­der Allen in Oak­land, looks like a stop­gap there but could be among those con­sid­ered along with of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Kevin O’Con­nell and some high-pro­file ex­ter­nal can­di­dates.

The log­i­cal next step is hand­ing Hask­ins the keys to O’Con­nell’s of­fense to take it for a test drive in case O’Con­nell is the next coach and to see if the Red­skins pull an Ari­zona Car­di­nals and take a quar­ter­back in the first round in back-to-back years. Sny­der’s sup­port for Hask­ins makes mov­ing on from him un­likely.

Cal­la­han has pre­vi­ously called Case Keenum his starter when healthy, and a con­cus­sion to the vet­eran is the only rea­son Hask­ins started against the Bills. De­spite four in­ter­cep­tions in two re­lief ap­pear­ances ear­lier in his rookie year, Hask­ins looks ca­pa­ble of learn­ing some on-field lessons with­out any con­cern he’ll be marred by strug­gles.

Hask­ins grew more con­fi­dent as the Bills game went on, fin­ished 15 of 22 for 144 yards and has the right men­tal­ity to de­velop on the fly.

“I was see­ing the field bet­ter and bet­ter as the game went on, (there were) things I saw be­fore it hap­pened, and that’s a part of play­ing quar­ter­back,” Hask­ins said. “In my short ca­reer and the amount of (snaps) I’ve had through­out my ca­reer, I just want to play nat­u­ral and play in­stinc­tive.”

Against Darnold and the Jets at home Nov. 17, Hask­ins will have a safety valve in run­ning back Adrian Peter­son, who rushed for 108 yards at Buf­falo and can be a work­horse for the run-first Cal­la­han. Peter­son and vet­eran left tackle Don­ald Penn also could pro­vide the bal­ance of tough love Hask­ins might need.

“I told him to be laid back, lean on us if he needs any­thing and stuff like that,” Penn said. “I saidD:`on’t be scared to be a leader and con­trol. If you see some­thing you don’t like in the hud­dle, speak up.’ I said,G`uys are go­ing to re­spect that a lot more. Don’t wait for one of us to do it.“’

Notes: The Red­skins on Thurs­day put left tackle Trent Wil­liams on the non-foot­ball in­jury list and ac­ti­vated run­ning back Der­rius Guice. Wil­liams re­ported last week af­ter a lengthy hold­out and dis­cussed a can­cer scare that led him to dis­trust the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Guice has been out since Week1with a right knee in­jury.

ADRIAN KRAUS/AP

Wash­ing­ton coach Bill Cal­la­han says he’s tak­ing his time to de­ter­mine the team’s di­rec­tion.

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