ASHBURN — The defensive meeting ended and the news was soon out. Redskins players were not happy.
The apparent plan entering this week’s game against the New York Giants, according to an ESPN report on Wednesday, is to finally have star cornerback Josh Norman follow Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. to either side of the field.
The two men have a sordid history after a contentious game last Dec. 20 that led to a one-game suspension for Beckham. But Washington has struggled to contain top wide receivers Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant in the first two games against Pittsburgh and Dallas. It makes sense to use Norman that way. But they’d rather not have that telegraphed to the Giants.
“We have a bunch of different plans,” defensive end Chris Baker said. “But the fact that it got out like that is crazy.”
That comes on the heels of a report from Pro Football Talk on Sunday that several Redskins players have expressed unhappiness about the play of quarterback Kirk Cousins and that there is general tumult in the locker room. That should come as no surprise at 0-2 when Washington expected to retain its NFC East title from last season.
The receivers’ frustration was evident on the field Sunday when the Redskins couldn’t put together a game-winning scoring drive and Cousins threw a devastating interception in the end zone early in the fourth quarter from inside the 5-yard line.
“Like I said before, and hopefully one of my teammates might be listening to me right now, don’t be anonymous. Just step out and tell us how you really feel about Kirk,” defensive end Ricky Jean Francois said. “At the end of the day that man is gonna be our quarterback. At the end of the day if you’re gonna talk about that man there’s no need for you to be in our damn locker room, no need to even be here.”
Francois pointed around the locker room where players were happily playing ping pong and shuffleboard and foosball, jokes flying back and forth, smiles all around. That’s not exactly an ideal way to tell what’s going on behind the scenes. But he wanted to make the point that there was no general locker room strife — even if there were a few players willing to air their grievances in the press. Is there frustration with that?
“No. We ain’t in a perfect world. You know people are gonna do things,” Francois said. “Stuff like this always happens in every locker room. I don’t care how perfect people think locker room are, none of our locker rooms is perfect. People are gonna talk about you. People are gonna go behind people, say little slick stories or stuff like that. It doesn’t frustrate me. It makes me laugh to actually show that we actually have somebody in this locker room that feels this way about this man.”
Added Francois: “But how you feel this way? You weren’t feeling this way last year when this man took us to the playoffs. So why feel like that now? We is only 0-2. We got 14 games to go. Let’s go and ball and have fun with one another.”
For his part, Cousins told 106.7 The Fan this week that at 0-2 and given the way he’s played he isn’t shocked by frustration from some teammates. But he’s also tried to stay away from the negativity. He doesn’t want to know exactly what’s being reported even if it comes with the territory on a team that’s struggling. Some of his teammates, at least, are willing to stand up for him in public.
“It wasn’t his fault. It was the whole team’s fault, including coaches, too,” Francois said. “So it was coaches and players, not just this man alone. But if anybody really got something to say about Kirk here in this locker room — my locker right here, I ain’t gonna come anonymous.”
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