NFL teams don't have to practice on Wednesdays during their bye weeks; rather than spend that day preparing for their next opponent, many of them use it as an extra day off to let their players relax before getting back to work the following Monday.
That was the choice the Redskins took in previous years, but many teams still like to get the extra work. Count the Redskins as one of them this year.
"We need the work," interim head coach Bill Callahan said on Monday. "Every position needs work. I think it's a practice that's been designed to implement the changes that we make coming off the self-scout."
The Redskins were busy in the first part of their off week. The team had a mandatory life skills seminar with the NFL, followed by conditioning, on Tuesday and a regular practice in shells – shoulder pads and helmets – on Wednesday.
That practice was closed to the media, but Callahan said he wants to use the extra work to bring their focus inward on what the team can do to improve for the rest of the season.
"I think that's important as you go through a week like this," Callahan said. "You take a fine-tooth comb and you go through everything from the beginning of the season to where you're at now and come up with some conclusions that can change your team."
"It won't be a beat down, knock out, drag out type of practice," he added. "But it'll be more mental than physical."
Callahan listed off a couple of areas, such as red zone efficiency and third-down situations, that the team wanted to look at in the time off. The Redskins haven't scored a red zone touchdown in the past six games and are 0 for 7 in that area. On third downs, the offense has converted just 22 of 91 third downs for 24.18% while the defense has allowed 63 of 126 attempts for an even 50%.
Callahan later expounded by saying it's "back to the blackboard" for both sides of the ball.
"Whatever we can do to manufacture a throw, a run, a matchup, a protection pickup, we've got to nail it down," he said. "There's always that 35-40% chance that a team's going to convert … but when you get into longer downs and distances, those are areas that we've got to contain, and when we get into double-digits, we've got to do a better job."
A prime example of the defense allowing opposing offenses to convert 3rd-and-longs came during last Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills when it allowed Josh Allen to convert a 3rd-and-18 with a 23-yard pass to wide receiver John Brown.
"For that to happen, it's uncharacteristic, it shouldn't happen," Callahan said of the play.
The Redskins will also use the "self-scout" period to evaluate individual positions, the most important being quarterback. Rookie Dwayne Haskins made his first career start against the Bills, while fellow signal caller Case Keenum was in the league's concussion protocol all of last week.
Haskins completed 15 of 22 passes for 144 yards, and Callahan continued to praise his decision-making and poise Monday.
"I thought he did a lot of positive," Callahan said. "I think the reads were really good. I thought he focused on getting the ball on the outside lanes really well. Just building that confidence with him, progressing into fuller field reads, things of that nature will add to the development of his game."
Callahan did not name Haskins the starter for the rest of the year. Instead, he wants to take his time during the bye week to assess "a lot of different things."
"I just want to gather all the information," Callahan said. "I want to look at a lot of things on film, go back into the self-scout and I just want to take my time and decide…the direction that we're going to go."
Check out photos of the Washington Redskins during their regular season Week 9 game against the Buffalo Bills.