Shanahan, who had called Sunday’s contest with the Carolina Panthers a “must-win” game, said after the 21-13 loss: “When you lose a game like that, now you’re playing to see who, obviously, is going to be on your football team for years to come. Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at.
“Obviously we’re not out of it statistically,” he said. “But now we find out what type of character we’ve got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.”
He said Monday that his statements were not meant to imply he was giving up on this season and looking to the future.
But perhaps the bigger issue as the Redskins began their bye week was that more than halfway into Shanahan’s third season, the team is in last place in the NFC East and there is reason to wonder how much progress has been made since he was hired by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
The Redskins have a record of 3-6, and are 14-27 under Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. Shanahan, who has two more seasons remaining on his contract, said Monday he believes progress has been made.
“I see some tremendous strides,” Shanahan said. “Hopefully it’s not only me. Hopefully it’s Dan as well.”
Shanahan said he would explain his postgame remarks to the team’s players when he addresses them Tuesday and attempted to do that Monday when he spoke to reporters.
“You’ll find out if you’ve got guys that are going to give everything,” he said. “I don’t care if they’re a five-year player, a 10-year player, a first-year player. When your backs are against the wall, how do you stand up with adversity? I would never say that we’re going to play young players. I’ve never said that since I’ve been here. . . . We’re always going to play the people that give us the best chance to win.”
He acknowledged, however, that “I’m not saying I gave the perfect quote.”
Shanahan also added that the Redskins must treat each of their seven remaining games as if they are playoff contests.
“You know there’s only three teams since ’90 that have been in the playoffs [after starting] 3-6,” Shanahan said. “So you understand those stats. . . . You’ve got to play your best football now because you’ve got to treat each game like a playoff game.”
Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III said Monday he had no problem with what Shanahan said Sunday.
“I know a lot of people are taking that statement and running with it, but I don’t feel like he’s throwing in the towel, per se, as what other people are saying . . . Right now we are in must-win territory. Even this last game was a must-win, and we didn’t win it. The rest of the league is definitely helping us out by giving the rest of the NFC East teams some losses. So we have to win out, and if we win out, we have a really good chance to make the playoffs . . . It’s a time where guys either have to perform or they won’t be here next year, and that’s what it comes down to.”