Redskins vs. Chiefs: Washington’s special teams sink to a new low

December 8, 2013

Tight end Niles Paul called the Washington Redskins “terrible on special teams” after they yielded first-half touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns Sunday during their 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at FedEx Field.

“I’m not a starter on this team,” Paul said. “My role is largely playing on special teams. So I take pride in [how] I played and what I do on special teams. And people can blame and say it’s a coach thing. But it’s not a coaching thing. It’s an effort thing and it’s from each player, each individual. Eleven people out there have to want to make a tackle, have to want to make a play, have to want to make a block. And that’s not happening right now and that’s why we are terrible on special teams.”

The Chiefs got touchdowns by Dexter McCluster on a 74-yard punt return and by Quintin Demps on a 95-yard kickoff return.

“You’ve got to put people who are hungry, who want to make plays, who are in a position like me and like Reed [Doughty] and like Trenton Robinson and Josh Hull, guys who don’t really have a large role on offense or defense so are hungry enough to want to play, and put them in a position where you show that hunger on special teams,” Paul said. “That’s what special teams is. It’s just a bunch of guys who want to prove themselves to get on the field on offense and defense. And right now you don’t have that. You don’t have that at all.”

Coach Mike Shanahan said the Redskins’ performance on special teams Sunday was “obviously horrendous.”

The Post's Mike Jones says Dan Snyder has decisions to make regarding Mike Shanahan's future, but Art Briles is not the answer.

The Redskins have had a series of special teams gaffes this season under their first-year special teams coach, Keith Burns.

“The bottom line, the players go out there and have to perform, whoever the coach is,” punter Sav Rocca said. “And whether it’s his calls or the way that we’re going about it, it’s just not working.”

Asked about how he reacted to the long returns Sunday, Rocca said: “You get [angry], obviously.”

Paul said he’d felt the Redskins had made progress on special teams recently. But any progress that had been made was negated Sunday, he said.

“I felt like after the Dallas game we made some progression and we added Trenton Robinson,” Paul said. “We added Josh Hull and you get more guys who want to be out there. But I just feel like now we’re right back to stage one where it comes to just being a terrible unit in general. You just have to have 11 guys who want to put that effort, who want to make a tackle, who want to make a block. You have to have that to be a good special teams unit.”

The Redskins don’t have enough players who are eager to excel on special teams, according to Paul.

“I think we need people to understand their role on this team and if you want to stay on this team, you need to be able to play special teams,” Paul said. “So I do think that. I think there’s too many guys who think that they’re too good for special teams. And you can’t have that.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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