By Kevin Ross
“No-Pressure – No Diamonds” translates into a catchy slogan adopted by Robert Griffin III. This phrase can be seen on the clothes that he wears; it can be heard from his mouth, and it represents the way in which he conducts himself on-and-off of the field.
If the Washington Redskins want to continue to play meaningful games this season, it would be in their best interest to embrace the pressure that will be felt in this week 9 matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
This is the first must-win game of the season, as a loss would unofficially but realistically eliminate Washington from playoff competition. Losing this game and going into the bye week at 3-6, would essentially mean that Washington would have to finish the season with a record of 6-1 to have a chance at the playoffs.
Coach Shanahan took time from his schedule to address the importance of this week’s game with the media.
“Everybody knows it’s a must-win game when you’re 3-5. … If you have any chance at the playoffs, everybody understands at the midway point that you’ve got to start playing your best football or you’re eliminated awfully quick.”
This was the first time since Mike Shanahan arrived in Washington, that he labeled a game as “must win.” Is there a deeper meaning to why Coach Shanahan chose this moment to break his character and throw out the words must win? Or is the ball coach simply panicking under pressure? The true answer is we’ll never know, but I’m inclined to lean closer to option two: He’s panicking.
A coach in the National Football League should never appear minuscule to the moment, or too cowardly to overcome the obstacle. And to his credit, Mike Shanahan’s demeanor has been even-killed during his tenure in DC. But this is why his press conference was so alarming, as his typical even temper was replaced with panic.
Coach Shanahan’s weekly press conference should have been filled with his typical sports jargon that yields little substance. Instead we may have witnessed the beginning stages of Mike Shanahan’s unraveling. In that same press conference the usually composed Shanahan, referred to himself as a “dumb-sh-t,” which was another first for the Head Coach.
How can a ball coach demand that his players not allow the enormity of this week to knock them off of their game, when he himself has completely fallen off of his?
So far it’s fair to say, that the pressure of this season has produced anything but diamonds for the ball coach. Redskins’ nation is left to hope that coach Shanahan’s lack of composure and discipline this week has not trickled down to RG3 and the rest of the team.
But the one thing that we have to remember is this: Games are ultimately won or loss by the players. “This is where, normally, football teams are taken over by their veterans. It can go one direction or the other and you expect these guys to play at a higher level, even with some of the inexperienced guys. You expect them to get the most of the other players that may not have played at the highest level they can. But it’s either step up or shut up and it’s where you’ve got to get it done,” said Mike Shanahan.
Most team fanatics couldn’t agree more with the “Step up or shut up” phrase, especially if it is directed at the coaching staff. Mike Shanahan proclaiming this game as a must win, has certainly added unnecessary pressure to the team. But maybe, just maybe, the end results of this pressure will translate one day into diamond rings for the burgundy and gold. For now, the best thing for Washington to do this Sunday is win baby, win.
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.