ASHBURN, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — Mike Shanahan says the Washington Redskins’ poor start is a “temporary setback” and that he has no plans to sit Robert Griffin III.
Griffin says maybe he needs to be more of a “stern leader” following the team’s lopsided loss in Green Bay.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall says the next opponent is “probably smiling right now looking at our defense.”
Linebacker London Fletcher says he and his teammates are facing “as close to a must-win situation as possible” — just three games into the season.
The Redskins have been undisciplined and fundamentally unsound in big losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers, outscored 50-7 and outgained 695-230 in the first halves of those two games combined. Griffin hasn’t looked the same in his return from major knee surgery, but he’s hardly the only culprit: bad penalties and bad tackling are also near the top of the list.
“We’ve done some things that have definitely been uncharacteristic of us,” Fletcher said Monday. “Coach Shanahan always talks about penalties, making sure we keep our poise, playing smart disciplined football, fundamental football. We stress all those things, and the first couple of ballgames we haven’t played to those expectations.”
What to do about it becomes the next topic. Griffin after Sunday’s game that if his teammates “want me to be hard on them, I’ll be hard on them,” replacing his usual philosophy of positive reinforcement in his role as a team captain.
Shanahan didn’t sound very impressed by the idea.
“You can’t worry about other people, you have got to worry about yourself,” Shanahan said Monday. “Once you play the perfect game, then you can start worrying about other people. That’s what I always tell everybody. If it’s an offensive lineman, if it’s a quarterback, a tight end, it doesn’t matter who you are. You have got to concentrate on your job, and if everybody concentrates on their job and they do it perfectly, then we’ve got a chance for good things to happen.”
Griffin does need to step up his game. His stats are pretty, but they’re also pretty meaningless because 75 percent of his 649 yards passing have come while playing fruitless games of catch-up in the second half. Stunningly, he has yet to run the ball out of the zone-read this season, taking away the very play that made him such a unique threat last year. Shanahan insists that’s because the offense is forced to change its approach when trailing by multiple touchdowns.
Shanahan laughed when asked if he was considering starting backup Kirk Cousins instead.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in Robert,” Shanahan said. “Anytime you start out a little bit slow and we’re down as many points as we’ve been down and we get to a two-minute attack a little bit earlier than we would like to, you probably put people in the toughest situation you can. … I thought in the two games we did play, we did some good things. Not perfect by no means, but we’re getting better. We are getting better as a football team even though it didn’t look like it very much in the first half of either game.”
The Redskins like to point out that last year’s team was 3-6 before pulling out seven straight wins to claim the NFC East, but none of those early losses were as ugly as the two games so far this year. Shanahan said he doesn’t want to overreact, but even the steady veteran Fletcher is getting antsy about the consequences of an 0-3 start, which would happen if Washington loses this week at home to the Detroit Lions.
“It is as close to a must-win situation as possible,” Fletcher said. “We need to get that winning feeling back and get some confidence.”
Hall and Fletcher agreed that a defense that has allowed 511 yards per game isn’t going to put a scare into anybody. Hall said a more hard-edged leadership approach by Griffin — or anyone else — isn’t going to fix that.
“We’re not in a Hollywood movie where you’re going to hear a speech and all of a sudden guys are going to play harder,” Hall said. “Guys have to want to play harder. They have to want to make plays.”
Notes: S Brandon Meriweather is going through the required tests after suffering a concussion in a head-first tackle in Sunday’s game. His condition will be updated on Wednesday. … K Kai Forbath, who missed the game with a sore groin, probably won’t kick again until Friday to gauge his status.
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