For the past three seasons, the Washington Redskins have excelled in their use of the zone blocking scheme, establishing themselves as one of the better running teams in the league and twice sending running back Alfred Morris to the Pro Bowl.
Heading into the 2015 season, the Redskins plan to bolster their running attack by mixing in more of a power-running style under the leadership of a new offensive line coach.
Veteran NFL coach Bill Callahan was hired to that position Jan. 15, and said Wednesday on "Redskins Nation" that complementing the zone-blocking scheme under offensive coordinator Sean McVay will be one plan of attack moving forward.
"If you're talking schematics and you're talking about the power running game, the gap blocking aspects of the power running game come into play," Callahan told host Larry Michael. "I think what Coach [Sean] McVay has brought here and what he's done here has been very positive. We're trying to augment what we're doing with the gap game – which we're going to evolve."
Callahan said the zone and power blocking schemes often work hand-in-hand in the more successful offenses around the league.
"I think across the league, when you talk about the power running game, the zone game fits in that realm," he said. "So, you have to have the ability to run the tight zone game – which is a little bit more north and south – and then you have the wide zone game, which is a little bit more of the old Denver Broncos spectrum of running; a little more tackling outside."
Callahan comes to the Redskins with 16 years of NFL experience under his belt, including capturing the 2002 AFC Championship as a head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He most recently served as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach with the Dallas Cowboys from 2012-14, helping transform that franchise into the second-best rushing team in the league in 2014 (147.1 yards per game).
Callahan – who also had two offensive linemen (Tyron Smith and Zach Martin) named to The Associated Press 2014 All-Pro Team – in all has had 10 offensive linemen combine for 22 Pro Bowl selections during his career with the Cowboys, New York Jets and Raiders.
The Benedictine University product said he has a "tough" coaching approach, but says it's important to be "extremely fair" to his players, as well.
"We work hard," said Callahan, who prides himself on "teaching, becoming a technician and really helping any players fix an issue or problem they might have and try to find solutions for them to maximize their abilities.
"That's what I think coaching a team is all about," he said.
Callahan also discussed the advantages of having an offensive line already led by the likes of left tackle Trent Williams, who is coming off his third Pro Bowl selection.
"I think he's outstanding," Callahan said of Williams. "He's tremendously athletic, what he can do from footwork and redirect and reach, he has all the qualities of a great player. … He still has much more to achieve. I'm certainly excited and hopeful we can get him there."
Callahan said he's already counting the days until he's able to coach up his new players and continue the tradition of strong offensive line play in Washington.
"I'm genuinely excited," he said. "I've always prided myself on trying to take a group and make them better. This is a great challenge – one I'm fired up about."