Still, the short week meant Washington had one fewer day to prepare for Green Bay and to correct its mistakes. Coach Mike Shanahan said the team would include the Packers’ preseason games among its video study. A few days after Morris fumbled on his first carry and mishandled a toss in the end zone from Griffin, players worked on fundamentals during the early portion of Thursday’s workout. Handling the snap, a smooth transition from quarterback to running back, easy and effortless tosses to the left and right. Kyle Shanahan said the emphasis on basics was nothing new, but after one loss, the stakes seem higher.
It’s still daybreak in the regular season, and this is a team that shook off a 3-6 start in 2012 to win seven consecutive contests and win the NFC East before a first-round playoff exit. NFL players have been trained to say that one season, whether good or bad, has nothing to do with another. But with this team, a few mental calluses were formed by last season’s turnaround — though caution does exist.
“The problem was the offseason,” Young said. “We got praised a lot for basically winning the division and losing. That’s not good. That’s not football.”
The narrative entering the season was that if Griffin recovered from knee surgery, Washington would be among the NFC’s contenders and a favorite to repeat as division champion. Important players were healthy again, and the team entered a new season with confidence and poise.
Then, in the course of one loss, that story line was threatened. Was Griffin rusty? Was the team unable to establish chemistry without Griffin participating in preseason games. Was the defense unprepared for a new offense? Or was Washington just overrated?
“You turn on the TV, and it’s the first story on everything,” linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “You can’t get away from it.”
Young, a veteran who in recent years endured some of the team’s more frustrating seasons, said he was encouraged by a second-half comeback Monday night. Washington held Philadelphia to one touchdown in the second half. Past teams, Young said, lacked resilience and wouldn’t have been capable of such a response.
So now Washington is down again, another comeback needed and, according to those in the locker room, this latest deficit doesn’t feel at all bleak. It’s one loss, many of them say. And it’s behind them.
“Someone’s going to be 0-2,” Kerrigan said, “and we don’t plan on it being us.”