Callahan With a Chair Shot to Jay Gruden's Back

The day before Christmas brought some sense of the end. A look back on how a bitterly disappointing season started, unfolded and now is coming to a finish. It came with a proverbial chair shot from the interim head coach to the back of the former head coach.
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Bill Callahan and Jay Gruden did not see eye to eye. That might be a light characterization. 

They were essentially oil and water. Frick and Frack. Sweet and Sour. You get the point. 

Callahan is old school. Gruden is new school. Callahan believes in running the ball and the short passing game built with it, despite what many say. 

He's not a dinosaur. He's not incompetent as many wrongly allege. He's done what worked with very limited experience at many positions, including the most important one. 

Gruden did not care who he had or what he had. He was running his system and nothing was going to stop that. It was a complicated harem of pass route concepts and second and third level reads, that would often lead to check downs when the Redskins didn't have elite receiving talent. 

Gruden did not care who the quarterback was or what the offensive line or opponent was like. He ran what he ran, because it was a sophisticated design that would free a lot of talent down the field. The problem? The Redskins could never take full advantage of it, because of penalties, pass rush pressure or inaccuracy. 

There were very few games where Gruden's play-calling and design matched the reality of the situation the Redskins were in. I can think of three and that might be the end of the list. 

Weeks 1 and 2 against Miami and then the Rams in 2015 with Kirk Cousins. Week 15 against Jacksonville last year with Josh Johnson starting for the first time. 

That's about it. 

So as the years went along - four plus - Callahan and Gruden's philosophical and personal divide grew. 

It should be no surprise that when Callahan took over, there were no more live music dee jays, officials at practice just about every day and even more emphasis on fundamentals and technique. 

Callahan's old fashioned and long-in-the tooth philosophy didn't exactly sit well with some (many?) of today's spoiled and ultra-protected players. 

They were used to business a certain way, except for the offensive line group who often worked harder after practices and longer than most, when they were coached by Callahan. 

With that as a much needed back drop, because I'm not sure if anyone has talked about this besides us in this space, here's how Bill Callahan took a folding chair WWE style to Jay Gruden's back before Christmas. 

Callahan was asked  what he was going to remember about this season since taking over from Gruden. 

“I look at the fight of our players. I look at the resiliency and [I] tried to bring back a work ethic into the program that I thought was lacking. I thought our players could have been better fundamentally....still not there yet," Callahan opined per a Redskins issued transcript. 

"I saw our players get better and compete for four quarters. I saw our players have stamina through four quarters of play. I thought long and hard about improving the team and what aspects I would really focus on and lot of that was the second half finish and I thought we did that. I thought we competed better in the second half of our play. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to, we didn’t win the games we needed to win. 

I learned a lot just in the short period of time I’ve had the team. Teaching them how to focus, the importance of our divisional opponent and how the margin of error is so small and the point differential is always tight in a divisional game and then learning how to sustain a winning effort and that’s what champions do. Champions finish. 

Champions sustain and they get through those moments and they break through and they find themselves. That’s where I see this team is going, where it’s headed and where it needs to get better at and it’s close, but close is not good enough in the National Football League. (This one may have been an inadvertent chair shot to Bruce Allen).

You either win or you don’t and I get that, I understand that. I’ve been in this business for a long time, so I understand dynamics that are out there every Sunday. You’re competing, you’re competing when it’s a brutal business. I always say it’s a great game, but it’s a brutal business. I tell that to the players everyday and that’s where we’re at. That’s the name of the game, it’s the National Football League. But I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in the sense of accountability, in the sense of our responsibility day-in and day-out on the practice field. I’m proud of that aspect from our team." 

Now, perhaps you might read that in some other way than how I took it, how it sounded and I know how others heard it as well. 

I would jokingly refer to Gruden's style as "Club Jay" during his tenure which was a combination of "Club Med" and a nightclub because of the music dee jays and light intensity often on display. 

Now, Bill Callahan has confirmed that culture. D.J. Swearinger went all-in on that philosophy last year and in-part, it cost him his job. Others privately have wondered and said as much. 

Callahan not only verified it. He took a metal folding chair to the back of Gruden and took a few swings. 

Chris Russell is the Publisher of Maven & Sports Illustrated's Washington Redskins channel. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621.