Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said Tuesday he believes his team’s winning streak has prompted a boost in confidence. He pointed to the strong defensive stand late against the Giants, along with the ability of running the four-minute offense and picking up key first downs to ice the game, as evidence of of that increased confidence.
Shanahan said, however, “We can’t be complacent, because we don’t have the opportunity to be complacent. Every game to us is like a playoff game.”
He praised players for stepping up in place of injured starters as the season has progressed, saying, “I’ve always felt this was a special group of people.”
The Redskins players spoke Monday night about an “us against the world” mentality. Shanahan said, “It’s not a motivating tool. You’re trying to find a way to win.”
Shanahan said the fact that his team went all game without giving up a sack speaks volumes to the improvement of the offensive line.
He also praised the efforts of Alfred Morris down the final stretch of the game, particularly while grinding out tough yards for first downs in the final four minutes of play.
“He showed a desire that you don’t see in a lot of rookies,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan said he was impressed with outside linebacker Rob Jackson, who usually doesn’t play often on third downs but came up with a key sack in the fourth quarter. “He was possessed. My hat’s off to him,” Shanahan said.
The coach also praised inside linebacker London Fletcher and tackle Trent Williams for their leadership and how they played through injuries.
“When your back’s against the wall, you’ve got to step up,” Shanahan said.
The coach said both captains “set a standard” for their teammates. Shanahan said he wasn’t worried about Fletcher’s ability to play through his ankle injury, but said the team’s staff closely monitored the younger Trent Williams to be sure that he wasn’t risking further injury and that he could play effectively.
Shanahan declined to discuss the scuffle between the Redskins and Giants at the conclusion of the play that Morris fumbled. He said the emotions of playing such a competitive game some times leads to such incidents.
Shanahan said he didn’t use Giants’ CEO John Mara’s rumored push to get draft picks taken away from the Redskins as part of their salary cap penalty, but he said he himself wanted to beat New York because of it. “I didn’t discuss it with any players. But it fires me up. Sure it does,” he said.
Shanahan said he didn’t talk to anyone in the Kansas City Chiefs organization following the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, but said that “having dealt with a few deaths [to players] … your heart goes out to them.”